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.
In some ways, each person with multiple sclerosis lives with a different illness. Although nerve damage is always involved, the pattern is unique for each individual with MS.
Specific experiences with MS may vary widely, but doctors and researchers have identified several major types of MS. The categories are important because they help predict disease severity and response to treatment.
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
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
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
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