Teri Garr suffers from multiple sclerosis. Worrying photos of her state of health have been released. Despite the effects of the disease, she raises awareness for others in the same situation as her.
Teri Garr is an actress who boasts quite a long list of movies. She’s especially known for her comedic roles, as she acted in classics such as “Dumb and Dumber” and “Tootsie.” But as her career progressed, her life was changed by the onset of multiple sclerosis.
In 1983, the actress started realizing that her body didn’t always respond the way she wanted it to when she was out jogging. She would often trip for seemingly no reason. After a while, though, the strange weakness would disappear for almost ten years.
After ten years, it started happening again, this time accompanied by sharp stinging pains in her arm. She didn’t pay too much attention to it, but she did see several doctors. Each one gave her a different diagnosis, and it wasn’t until 1999 that she was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Being diagnosed and open about it brought other troubles as well. At the time, Garr didn’t have too many severe symptoms, but once big producers found out about her disease, she was often overlooked for roles she would otherwise have gotten. She remarked:
“I was trying to work but I noticed that people, if they had any inkling of the idea that I was sick or had MS, people shunned me. No work after that.”
Luckily, though, she had family and close friends who were willing to look after her. Garr’s daughter, Molly O’Neill, has been aware of her mother’s condition since she was very young. Garr continued to do things while her physical state worsened, and her daughter called her “Supermom.”
Teri Garr Fights Her Disease with a Smile
Despite the worsening symptoms and the stigma against her in Hollywood, Garr chose to keep a positive outlook on life. She also shared that her attitude isn’t an exaggeration or a facade. Despite her health issues, she tried to look toward the good things:
“For me, it was immediately, ‘Look at the trees, look at life, look at how wonderful it all is.’ My opinion is that that’s the best way to go. Another way to react is, ‘I’m struck, I’m hit, I’m down, I’m out, it’s over.’”
Even when she had a brain aneurysm, life couldn’t get her down. Instead of crumbling and giving in, she tried her best to make a full recovery. She faced the condition and was soon sitting up, eating, and talking after the life-threatening event.
The actress also found her sense of humor to be essential throughout the entire ordeal. She tried to make time to laugh, and she made a point of still seeing the funny things in the world despite her circumstances. Her natural instinct has always been to stand up and fight.
Although it is a terrible disease with daunting implications and repercussions, she wanted people to approach it optimistically.
She said the alternative is to give in and do nothing to help yourself. She mentioned you have to choose between trying to see the good in life despite the bad, and giving up despite the good things that are still around you.
With that said, as she ages, the disease gets worse. She remains positive, but many fans were shocked when recent photos revealed just how much the illness is affecting her and how difficult it is to live with multiple sclerosis.
Saving the Lives of Others
Although Garr hasn’t worked in a while, she remains active by advocating for multiple sclerosis and informing people about the disease. She spends a lot of time talking about her condition, hoping to put some of the misconceptions to rest and educate people.
She also stars in the American Academy of Neurology Foundation’s educational video about multiple sclerosis. The video aims to inform families and caretakers about the disease and help them understand how to care for loved ones suffering from the illness. But she tries to approach advocacy from a unique angle.
She tries to inform people but also to inspire hope. She often shares what symptoms she is experiencing, thereby showing people the difficult side of the illness. But she also explores the positive sides, telling people about the medical progress that has been made toward curing the disease.
Garr also found that her talents as a stand-up comedian could be very handy for raising awareness. Every other celebrity with multiple sclerosis spoke about the traumatic aspects of the illness. Although that was an essential part of it, Garr thought she could do a lot of good by approaching it as a comedian:
“I thought, there’s too much drama here. What if someone went out and talked about it like a stand-up comic? If you get somebody laughing — and then stick in a point about something important — they’ll remember it.”
Another thing she wanted to do was change people’s perceptions of the illness. Although it is a terrible disease with daunting implications and repercussions, she wanted people to approach it optimistically. She also thought thinking about it in a less negative way would uplift those that have the illness.
Whenever she got the chance, Garr would open up about her experiences with the disease. But, instead of telling people how bad life is, she gets people to relate to her by informing them while making jokes. She would make quip after quip about how her life changed in funny ways while educating her audience.