Michaele Salahi Battling MS and Bad Press

Michaele Salahi, famous — or infamous — for crashing a state dinner at the White House and landing a gig on a reality television show, added another dimension to her fame by announcing that she has multiple sclerosis (MS). Can’t you hear the collective groan?

My own first reaction to Mrs. Salahi’s announcement was to yawn and move on. It does not thrill me to give more attention to someone obviously addicted to attention for attention’s sake, but as a person who has MS, I am rather surprised by reaction to the story.

There is a fair amount of understandable skepticism about her claim, considering her reputation and that sales of a newly-released book are at stake. And her explanation that her thin figure is the result of MS is confusing. The very long list of MS symptoms generally does not include weight loss or thinness.

She says that she’s kept the secret of her diagnosis of 17 years. I don’t find that hard to believe. For a variety of reasons, it is quite common for people with invisible illness to keep it private for many years.

Salahi wants the country to know that “you can still have a full, exciting, and productive life even if you or a loved one is battling a debilitating, chronic disease such as MS.” That much we already knew.

So is it a good thing, or a bad one, to have Michaele Salahi as an unofficial ambassador for people with MS? It is neither. She is one of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and millions around the world who have MS. She is as much the face of MS as anyone who has it; we are all unofficial ambassadors for MS.

MS, like many medical conditions, doesn’t play favorites. It does not choose its hosts based on a likability test, financial or social status, or ambassador potential. MS is a fickle disease when it comes to symptoms. Some of us have extremely debilitating symptoms while others barely register a twinge of numbness. People like me, who have relapsing/remitting MS, can experience both extremes.

Some of the comments I’ve read from people who have MS truly surprise me. Quite a few folks apparently are convinced that she can’t possibly have MS because she dances in high heels and has an active social life. Considering that this is National Chronic Invisible Illness Week, that kind of talk disappoints me. People with MS should know better.

Whether or not Salahi actually has MS is not my call to make, but I certainly wouldn’t make it based on her appearance. If you’d seen me dancing it up at a party a couple of weekends ago, you wouldn’t think I have MS either. Although I personally experience extended periods of time during which I cannot walk without assistance, not all people with MS have trouble with walking. That’s a fact.

MS is an invisible illness much of the time. You can’t see fatigue or pain; you can’t gauge the effort it may take a person with MS to walk across the room or blow dry their own hair; your eyes are unable to conceive that a person cannot feel their own face. And you definitely do not see the private struggle… when we are home and let our guard down.

You don’t have to like Salahi. I’m certainly not going to suddenly tune in to her reality television show or buy the book because we have MS in common. But those of us who have MS should be careful about our criticisms, lest we add to the many misconceptions about our condition.

I wouldn’t wish MS on anyone. I hope her case is as mild as it is invisible.


Related reading on Care2:

Image: official White House photo


jane richmond
jane richmond8 years ago

MS is a horrible disease. Even Mrs. Salahi does not deserve this. Hope we find a cure soon.

Ana O.
Ana O8 years ago

Let's hope for a cure for Ann, Michaele and thousands of others suffering chronic illness... God bless !

Jose Ramon Fisher Rodrigu

I may not like Mrs. Salahi but I still hope she doesn't suffer. And Ms. Pietrangelo, I wish you the least possible suffering as well.

Melissah Chadwick
Melissah C8 years ago


Jeffrey Prystupa
Jeffrey Prystupa8 years ago

Aside from commenting on her particular case, MS is one of the 'new' diseases that presents without fever. Sickness without fever points to poisoning as the vector.
She is most likely suffering from malnutrition of some critical components, perhaps iodine, as well as suffering from exposure to poisons, perhaps fluoride.
For those so afflicted, answers are more likely to be found in eliminating sources of toxins, detoxifying and then re-building.
Adding more toxins in the way of pharmaceuticals demonstrates a poor prognosis.
Emotional stress has also been seen as a contributing factor in MS.
This is an example of the new class of disease, now in epidemic proportion that is the result of toxicity as opposed to infection.

ELois C.
ELois P8 years ago

Even with her having, MS(which in that case, her husband, should have been more involved in her activities), she was NOT, responsible, for violating the saftey of our president!
Ms. Johnson and Johnson, was given that job and SHE, was responsible for turning ANYONE around/immediately contacting OTHER security, to have WHOMEVER REMOVED, ASAP!
That could have been a"test run", for an assault, against the White House!
That responsibility, is TOO important, for an I'm sorry!

Alexandra O.
Alex O8 years ago

You know those people that tell everyone they have cancer, get people to donate money, give them nice things then everyone finds out it was a lie? Everyone lies - some tell big ones and others tell small ones and for many different reasons. Looks like this woman has a penchant for attention and if she's full of it, it will eventually come out and she will never, ever be able to live it down and her political career will be nothing more than a memory. Then again, she could really be sick - my question is, if she does have MS, what does she hope to accomplish by telling everyone? Still looks a little like attention seeking behavior but what do you expect, she's a politician.

Robert H.
Robert H.8 years ago

Frankly my dear, ...

kate dyson
kate dyson8 years ago


Lucy Wingate
Lucy Wingate8 years ago

Thank you for an interesting article on Michaele Salahi and her battle with MS over 17 years. It would appear she is one of the more fortunate victims as she is still walking. It is a devastating illness--and, like SLE (lupus) and so many other chronic invisible illnesses--goes into remissions and then flares. But it has destroyed many lives and wreaked much havoc on others. Remember Disney Mouseketeer/teen actress Annette Funicello?