Flooring It Through Life — Speedbumps or Not!
Teri Garr is a star who is still movin' it to end MS whether she’s speaking before MS groups or doing public service announcements in support of MS Awareness Week. She is also someone with chronically elevated PMA — Positive Mental Attitude.
From Star Trek to Tootsie to Friends, Terri has charmed us for decades. Like people in all walks of life, she worried what would happen to her career if she disclosed her MS. Her symptoms, which had been evident to her for 20 years, were becoming evident to others, so by 2002 she decided the time was right.
“Besides, what’s worse? Being disabled or being a woman over 50 in Hollywood?” she quipped.
“Once I told about the MS, I quickly realized that I would be able to help people in the same condition and there was nothing to be ashamed of. If people were able to relate to me through my work, why not in my real life?... I traveled the country speaking to people with MS trying to encourage them to find out everything they could about all the available therapies and how they could move forward with their lives.”
After getting positive feedback about going public with her MS, Teri published her autobiography, Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood, in 2005. “I then had another opportunity to travel and meet more people when I toured for the book, and again, the feedback was positive and heartfelt. Everyone seemed to appreciate the fact that I had shared my story with them,” she said.
“I have received so much love and support from my fans,” Teri reports "They thank me for sharing my story and helping take the stigma and mystery away from MS.”
Getting past her anxiety and joining the MS movement was so reassuring that Teri credits the experience with motivating her to start working on a follow-up to Speedbumps. It’ll be a collection of short pieces and her working title is The Wit and Wisdom of Teri Garr.
Teri takes one of the approved disease-modifying drugs, and says that “I believe it has slowed the progression of the MS… my symptoms have remained stable.”
“Exercise is crucial,” she adds. She favors a machine that’s similar to a recumbent bicycle. “I try to use it an hour a day. It helps strengthen both my arms and legs, and is aerobic as well. Plus, I can read or watch TV while I’m on it. In the summer I swim, which I really love. It’s vital to keep moving.”
Teri said she finds it more helpful to talk about “a movement by and for people with MS” rather than a “war” against the disease. Her advice?
“I’d advise anyone recently diagnosed to relax,” she said. “MS affects everyone differently. The status of MS research has never been more exciting and there are many therapies available that slow the progression of the disease.
“As we all know, knowledge is power. Get involved on a local level. Become a volunteer, be an advocate, join one of the many Walk MS or Bike MS events in your area. Bring your friends and family with you. It’s a good way to connect with people and you’ll feel better about not only helping yourself, but helping others.”
For Teri’s latest contribution to building MS awareness see her interview in the Saturday Evening Post.