HomeCare, Aug 1, 2001
New York The president has multiple sclerosis. President Josiah Bartlet
of NBC's award-winning television drama, “The West Wing,” was
diagnosed last season with MS. The season finale probed the issue of how
the president, played by actor Martin Sheen, would handle public disclosure
of his disease next fall.
“Whether you're the president or whether you work on an assembly line, the issue of ‘should I reveal my MS,’ or when, or to whom is being addressed,” said National Multiple Sclerosis Society representative Arney Rosenblat.
These are questions that all MS patients face, according to Rosenblat. A Harris Poll released at the May meeting of the American Academy of Neurology reported that 42 percent of MS patients do not take medication to help control their MS, and 40 percent of patients hide their diagnosis from family, friends and colleagues.
“This is the first time in film or television where a character comes out and says this disease is treatable,” said Rosenblat.
Writers for the show have consulted NMSS for information on the disease, its symptoms and prognosis. “I think the key reason they chose this disease [for ‘The West Wing’] is because MS is a disease of young adults and can be hidden for a long period of time,” said Rosenblat. “It can also be drastically different from person to person, which makes it an ideal disease for a television show.”
So what will it mean for Josiah Bartlet? Will he need a walker, a wheelchair or other home medical equipment to deal with his MS? Stay tuned.
For more information on NMSS, call 1-800-FIGHT MS (344-4867).
© 2001, IndustryClick Corp