Ann Romney says that campaign stress brought on a flare-up of her multiple sclerosis recently. She revealed in an interview that kept her condition secret, even from her husband Mitt.
Ann was first diagnosed with the neurological condition in 1998 when she had trouble walking. Through the years she has been very open about her struggle with the disease, using both conventional and alternative treatments to manage it.
Ann Romney told NBC’s “Rock Center” that her relapse occurred this spring during “a crazy time” in the GOP primary campaign. Stress likely brought on the flare-up, she said.
“I didn’t want anybody worrying about me, especially Mitt,” she said. “I didn’t tell anyone.”
Until her recent relapse, Ann had been in remission for an extended period. “I started feeling tingling and a little bit of numbness coming back and I was dizzy,” she said. “I started to get dizzy, the dizzy head, you caught the MS fog, the real foggy brain.”
The flare-up was a “reminder that I can’t keep up the pace,” she said.
MS is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. About 400,000 Americans are living with it. It strikes women more often than men, and is often diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Although there is no cure for MS, the FDA-approved drugs used to treat it – including Avonex, Betasero, Copaxone, Extavia, and Rebif – are effective at controlling flare-ups and symptoms.
In addition to drug therapy, Ann has reportedly turned to alternative treatments – reflexology, acupuncture, and yoga. She also has credited horseback riding with helping her stay healthy.
Mitt Romney has said that his wife’s MS diagnosis in 1998 was devastating for him. “Probably the toughest time in my life was standing there with Ann, as we hugged each other and the diagnosis came,” he said.
In addition to having MS, she also had a cancerous lump removed from one of her breasts in 2008 and underwent radiation treatment.
MS patients and doctors have hailed Ann Romney’s openness about her disease, saying it has brought more public awareness and given hope to others with the condition.
“Whenever there’s a public figure with a disease, that raises public awareness,” Dr. Aaron Miller, an MS specialist, told Newsmax Health. “Our hope, of course, is that she will continue to do well managing her MS. Doing so can only give hope to others with the disease.”