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.
Most people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a type called relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). It usually starts in your 20s or 30s.
If you have RRMS, you may have attacks when your symptoms flare up. These are called relapses.
An attack is followed by a time of recovery when you have no few or no symptoms, called remission. It can last weeks, months, or longer. The disease doesn't get worse during these breaks.
After 10 to 20 years, RRMS usually changes to a different type of MS called secondary...
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."