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Montel Williams diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

Web posted on:
Monday, August 23, 1999 4:03:18 PM

NEW YORK (CNN) -- TV talk show host Montel Williams has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Williams made the announcement at a news conference in Manhattan on Monday along with his personal physician, Dr. Michael Olek, who recently confirmed the diagnosis in an examination.

Williams says he doesn't know how long he has had it, but said he has been misdiagnosed for 10 years.

Mayo Clinic: Multiple sclerosis - New leads into its cause and treatment

Olek, a Boston doctor affiliated with Harvard's multiple sclerosis center, characterized Williams' condition as relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and said that while Williams is not currently under treatment, he is actively reviewing a variety of treatment options.

"We have a lot of medicine to slow the progress of the disease," Olek said. "MS is a slow chronic disease, and Mr. Williams' symptom level is mild. In my view, Mr. Williams is capable of engaging in his normal activities but with the avoidance of strenuous exercise."

Williams said he plans to work for as long as he is physically able. "I want to inspire people, and show them that they can live and prosper with MS," he said.

"In the past six months I have suffered some pain," Williams told the news conference with his wife by his side. "But with the inspiration of the people around me ... I have been able to apply myself both mentally and physically," he said.

Williams is best known for his daytime talk show, "The Montel Williams Show"

He also plans to start raising money to find a cure for the disease.

Multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease of the central nervous system, is caused when the body's immune system attacks the nerves and brain. It slowly strips away the protective sheath around nerve fibers.

Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to paralysis and incontinence as the severity of the disease varies.

Williams, who marked his 43rd birthday in July, is a former Naval intelligence officer who began hosting "The Montel Williams Show" in 1991. He won an Emmy for his work in 1996.

He recently began directing his first feature film, "Little Pieces," written by and starring his wife, Grace Morley. He has made frequent guest appearances on the military-law drama "JAG," and starred in the short-lived TV drama "Matt Waters."

Williams' autobiography, "Mountain, Get Out of My Way" (1996, Macmillan Library Reference), was a New York Times bestseller.

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