Amy Schumer Is Showing the World What an MS Diagnosis Is Really Like
Her dad has been living with the disease since she was 12 years old—and Schumer is committed to highlighting how devastating it can be.
Reason #945 that we love Amy Schumer: In an Instagram post this week—a screenshot of a FaceTime call with her dad—the inspiring comedian announced that she had bought back the beloved farm her father lost to bankruptcy.
She then shared a home video of herself as a little girl, wading through a cornfield on the farm, and trying to get her dad—who's behind the camera—to follow her. In the caption she wrote,"We lost the farm when we lost everything else. But today I got to buy it back for him."
The nostalgic clip was filmed years before her father, Gordon Schumer, developed multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the immune system attacks the protective sheath around nerve cells (called myelin), and disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body.
Amy was only 12 when her dad was diagnosed with MS. Now that she's a world-famous comic, actress, writer, and producer, she's doing everything she can to raise awareness and funds for the debilitating disease.
On social media, she frequently shares photos and videos from visits with her dad, who resides in an assisted living facility and uses a wheelchair. And in the memoir she published this summer, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, shewrote candidly about the challenges of his MS. In one heartbreaking scene, she describes how he lost control of his bowels on a trip to an amusement park with Amy and her younger sister.
The disease is also a central theme in her hit movie Trainwreck. Amy's character (named Amy) has a father (named Gordon) who suffers from MS and resides in an assisted living facility. Amy and the film's director, Judd Apatow, used the Trainwreck Comedy Tour to raise more than $176,000 for the National Multiple Sclerorsis Society.
Last year, during an interview with Barbara Walters, Amy brought up the unpredictability of the disease, and how difficult the swings can be: “Some days he’s really good and he’s with it and we’re joking around,” she said. “And some days I go to visit my dad and it’s so painful. I can’t believe it.”
Most people who have MS experience a "relapsing-remitting disease course," which means they get new symptoms or relapses that last several days or weeks; then enter a period of remission.
Common symptoms of MS include trouble with balance and coordination, spasticity, vision problems, numbness or tingling, and fatigue. But the effects of the disease vary widely, depending on the degree of nerve damage, and the nerves that are affected. No two cases are the same.
There is currently no cure for MS, only treatments that can help slow its progression and manage symptoms—which is why the disease can use all the attention it can get. However, the good news is that there are now more treatments to help prevent MS-related damage than ever before, and not everyone with MS will need a wheelchair. (Read the Top 10 Myths About MS for more details.)
Advocates like Amy and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who revealed her diagnosis earlier this year (and is one of the many celebrities with MS), are highlighting just how devastating MS can be, as researchers work to find ways to improve the lives of people who are living with the disease.