When news anchor Neil Cavuto was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago -- after surviving stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma in the late '80s -- he sought second opinions in New York, Atlanta, Minnesota, and London, in his attempt to refute the undeniable.
Ten years later, Cavuto both accepts his MS and defies it. Doctors marvel at his MRI scans because they indicate a man unable to walk or talk. Yet while he sometimes has difficulty doing both, the Fox News anchor is remarkably fit, exercising on a stationary bike and treadmill to stave off muscle atrophy of the legs, a common problem in MS patients. Cavuto, 48, has the secondary progressive form of the disease, meaning it steadily worsens over time.
About three-fourths of people with MS have trouble walking. It can be one of the most challenging parts of the condition.
Dalfampridine (Ampyra) is a medication that helps you get around more easily. Unlike other MS treatments, it won’t keep symptoms from getting worse or change the course of the disease -- it’s just intended to improve how you walk.
He has fatigue, headaches, trouble walking, some vision loss, and -- occasionally -- hoarseness. "Having difficulty talking isn't good in my profession, but my wife welcomes it," jokes the anchor, who memorizes scripts for his program, Your World With Neil Cavuto, in case he can't read the teleprompter during taping.
Cavuto chose to be upfront about his MS with Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. His boss asked for the worst-case scenario, to which Cavuto responded: "I'll need a wheelchair." Ailes said simply, "Fine, we'll build a ramp."
The worst has yet to happen. Cavuto says he's grateful that he seems to "collect" diseases: "I used to be very self-centered," he says. "Now I'm more aware of trying to be a decent person and do the right thing."
He volunteers for the National MS Society. And children's issues, such as scholarships for kids whose parents have been immobilized by MS, are close to his heart, since he and his wife, Mary, recently adopted two boys, now ages 4 and 5.
For now, Cavuto is grateful that, thanks to medication, he leads a relatively normal life. Confident of a cure in his lifetime, he makes the best of a tough situation and continues with the job he loves so much, even though doctors initially suggested he take on a contributing role at Fox News. "I don't know where I'm going with this, or what's going to happen," he says. "But I just try and take it one day at a time and do the best I can."