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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Meredith Vieira juggles two popular television shows, kids, contractors -- and a husband who has MS.

Family Ties continued...

For example, the average person in the United States has about one chance in 750 of developing MS, and the risk for a person who has a parent with MS increases to one in 40, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"I think about it, yeah,"she admits." But there is breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease in my family." For now, " my kids are healthy and happy. The MS I will worry about another day."

It helps that the Providence, R.I., native is a card-carrying optimist. When Vieira learned early in their courtship that Cohen had MS, it didn't faze her.

"Maybe I am a Pollyanna, or maybe I thought I could be an angel, but my feeling was never to run. And I don't blame people who do. I totally understand it," she says, admitting to days when she wishes the family could take a ski vacation or go on a hike.

"I don't know if it was because my dad was a doctor and I am not afraid of disease, but I liked this guy and I wasn't going to leave because of some illness," she says. The fact that it affected only his eyes at the time may have played a role in her fearlessness, she admits. "If he said he would be in a wheelchair in three weeks, would I have felt different? I don't know."

Currently, Cohen is taking a newer-generation drug, one in a family of medications known as interferons, naturally occurring proteins that help regulate the immune system. Researchers believe these drugs help counteract the attack against the brain and spinal cord. They help reduce risk of relapse, halt the progression of MS-related disability, and reduce the development of new lesions in the brain.

"The treatments for MS are getting much better," says Joseph Herbert, MD, the director of MS Care Center at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. "Up until 10 years ago, there were hardly any treatments that were proven to affect the course of the disease, but today we have a whole variety of medications that reduce the relapse rate and slow the progression of disability."

In Sickness and in Health

Vieira chooses to emphasize the positive and set good examples for her children. "I appreciate more than ever the need to exercise, eat right, and find inner peace."

That's why she pushes herself to get to the gym or go for a run, even though she may want to do anything but exercise. Before turning in, she brews herbal tea to unwind. But sleep or no sleep, she has to appear, live, on The View weekday mornings. "It's been hard because there have been so many issues between my job, the kids, the house, and Richard. But I have to go on, so I just do it."

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