Meet Tamia Washington Hill—She and Husband Grant Hill Open Up About MS on EXTRA
On May 27, 2005, blockbuster singer Tamia and her basketball superstar husband Grant Hill opened up to EXTRA TV about living with multiple sclerosis. Tamia and Grant spoke candidly about the initial shock that came with the MS diagnosis and how they have worked together to maintain a positive and pro-active outlook about managing the disease.
Tamia Washington Hill is an extraordinary example of what an individual with talent and tenacity can achieve. According to biographical material, Tamia had a tough start being raised in the projects of Windsor, Canada. Today, she is the R&B superstar known as "Tamia", dedicated wife of NBA icon Grant Hill, and mother of two year old Myla. Recently, however, Tamia has taken on a new role, advocate for creating a world free of multiple sclerosis.
Diagnosed in 2003 at the age of 28, she didn't know what MS was or how it might impact her life and the lives of her family. She learned that there were treatments available to help manage MS, particularly for those who are newly diagnosed, but was leery about going public with her diagnosis. She didn't know how her fans might react as they probably knew even less about MS than she initially did.
After educating herself about MS, Tamia now strives to make others more aware of the disease and the fact that an MS diagnosis does not mean an end to one's hopes and dreams. "I went through 'I'm not telling anyone.' Now I think it's important to share it. It doesn't have to be a death sentence," she told USA Weekend. She also stresses the importance of listening to what is going on with your body and being your own advocate with your doctor. "You know your body," she told Jet Magazine." "You know when something isn't right. Be a pest—keep going to the doctor and keep saying 'Hey, this isn't right.'"
Though there is no "good" time to receive an MS diagnosis, Tamia's diagnosis came during an especially trying time for her and her husband. Grant had recently returned from the hospital where Tamia had rushed him when he developed a staph infection after surgery on his ankle left him with convulsions and a 104 degree temperature. Tamia started experiencing numbness in her hands and feet and unexplained severe fatigue. It was then Grant's turn to take her to the hospital. Three doctors, a misdiagnosis of a pulled muscle, and several MRIs later, Tamia was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Soon after, while out of the country celebrating their anniversary, Tamia had her first frightening attack. "Literally, I could not lift a pen. I could not get out of bed. I had to fill out customs forms to come back and my husband had to fill them out because I could not write," she told Jet.
Tamia had been caring for Grant while his injury left him sidelined. Suddenly the roles were reversed and Grant was the caregiver. Instead of thinking of this as a negative, Grant credits this event to bringing them closer together as a family and to putting his injury into perspective. "Whether I play another 10 years or another day, there's more to life than putting the ball through the basket," Grant told The New York Times.
Tamia focuses on maintaining a positive attitude and raising awareness about living with MS. "I just felt it was important to get out there and let people know that it's not a sign of weakness," she told EXTRA about her MS diagnosis. "You have good days and bad days."
Everyone at the National MS Society is grateful to Tamia and Grant for their efforts to raise awareness and understanding about multiple sclerosis.