March 7, 2004
The subject of his health was raised on their second date, Richard M. Cohen writes in Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir (HarperCollins, 236 pp.; $23.95).
He met Meredith Vieira in 1982, when both were working as TV journalists for CBS. "What do you know about multiple sclerosis?" he asked. "Do you know what MS means?" She replied: "Yes, it's a magazine, Rich."
Vieira didn't flinch or reveal any discomfort, and her attitude has helped steer their marriage through the choppy waters of his illness, he writes, in a book that's as much about their relationship as it is about MS.
Cohen was diagnosed 30 years ago, when he was 25. The signs had been subtle -- a coffee pot that slipped from his hand, a misstep on a busy street in Washington, where he was working on a PBS documentary series. His father and grandmother both suffered from MS. Still, it caught him off guard.
By the time he met Vieira, now co-host of ABC's The View, Cohen's eyesight was seriously impaired. And because MS is progressive, his health was going to worsen. He is now legally blind and must press his face to the computer screen to write. He needs a cane to walk.
He also has endured colon cancer -- twice.
Cohen worries about the couple's three children. Before the birth of their first son, he and Vieira were told that genetic considerations didn't exist with MS. His wife's history of miscarriages had turned their focus to just delivering a child, and three generations of MS in his family had been gently put aside. "Now the questions have grown large."
Still, the fighter inside him lives on, and that's the message that
Blindsided conveys. There can be no illusions of his health improving,
but Cohen concludes: "I do dream of living something better. Constantly."
Copyright © 2004, Associated Press