Meredith Vieira juggles two popular television shows, kids, contractors -- and a husband who has MS.
According to Meredith Vieira, who for nine years has famously shared a couch
and her opinions on ABC's hit morning talk show The View, "any
illness is a family illness. It is the other person in the room - a living,
breathing [person] who is there with you. To ignore an illness is not healthy,
particularly if it's chronic."
Vieira may trade quips and barbs on every subject from politics to pop
culture with co-hosts Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and
Star Jones-Reynolds, but when it comes to coping with a serious medical
condition she knows whereof she speaks: Her husband, Emmy Award-winning
journalist Richard Cohen, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at age 25,
before the couple met. In recent years, he has also survived two bouts of colon
Now married for nearly 20 years, with three children -- Ben, 16; Gabe, 14;
and Lilly, 12 -- the couple continues to live on the rollercoaster of a
Not that Vieira is complaining, far from it. The wife, mother, and caregiver
happily holds not one job but two - she is also the Emmy Award winning host of
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. On-air and off, her attitude can only
be described as upbeat.
One subject, however, will get her grousing: the recent renovation of her
Westchester, N.Y., home. Let's just say being uprooted has caused her some
stress. "This year I really feel I've aged because of stress," she
says, referring to the hordes of contractors and workers who have invaded her
"I usually have a lot of energy, but the stress has made me feel more
tired, and I can see how easy it is to fall into depression....It makes you not
want to work out or take care of yourself."
Renovations aside, Vieira, 52, shows few other signs of strain. She is
remarkably stoic about the difficulties of both supporting a chronically ill
spouse and placating the fears of her children, who worry about their father
and their own susceptibility to developing MS.
"Everybody has something, and this is our something," she tells
WebMD. "If you are trying to live your life, you can't wallow in the
negative. You just sort of have to live."
Living with MS
MS affects between 250,000 and 350,000 Americans, according to the National
Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke. Researchers believe it may be a
progressive disease that happens when the body's immune system attacks nerves
in the brain and the spinal cord.
While the cause is unknown, the most common symptoms are tingling, numbness,
loss of balance, weakness in one or both arms or legs, and blurred or double
Symptoms are unpredictable and tend to vary from person to person. While one
individual may be extremely tired, another may have severe vision problems, yet
another may have trouble with balance and muscle coordination, or slurred
speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems.