Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable chronic disease of the central nervous system with no cure, causes symptoms ranging from visual, motor, and sensory problems to issues with speech, swallowing, vision, and balance. Musician David Osmond, nephew of Donny and Marie Osmond, was 26 when he was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis. And while he grew up watching his father (Alan Osmond of the iconic Osmond Family) battle the debilitating disease, he still had a lot to learn about managing the condition. Today, Osmond has been out of his wheelchair for eight years and travels around the country as a vocal advocate for the roughly 400,000 Americans with MS. He recently visited Atlanta as part of the Our Voice in Song Campaign (in partnership with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation) to perform his new single “I Can Do This” at the Atlanta MS Walk. We caught up with him, along with Dr. Ben Thrower, medical director of the Multiple Sclerosis Institute at Shepherd Center, to discuss how MS sufferers can do more than simply cope with the disease.
Did growing up seeing your father’s battle with MS make you more hopeful or more terrified when you got your diagnosis? How did you cope initially?
Dr. Thrower, what is some of the MS research that you’re enthusiastic about? Do you anticipate a cure within our lifetime?
David, what pushed you to do more than just live with the disease? What advice do you give to others?
Despite all these challenges, you’re one of the most positive people we’ve talked to. How do you stay that way in the face of adversity?
Dr. Thrower, what are some ways that people can proactively manage their MS? There are different types of MS and different approaches to care but are there any universal practices you’d like to see patients doing?
David, as you travel around the country, inspiring people who are dealing with this disease, can you think of any instances where someone you’ve met has inspired or moved you personally?
What’s next for you? Will you continue traveling as an advocate for MS patents?