Terry Garr

Oscar nominated American actress, comedienne, dancer and voice artist.

"I had no idea. I just felt tingling. Actually, I felt buzzing in my foot ... and then when I was jogging also, I would get this horrible pain in my arm like a knife stabbing and I thought well I'm in Central Park -- well, maybe it is a knife stabbing me, but it wasn't," jokes Garr. Various diagnoses and dozens of doctor visits later, Garr says the health mystery was finally solved 17 years after she first experienced symptoms. In 1999, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or MS, a chronic and often degenerative disease of the central nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. There is no cure. It was a difficult diagnosis for Garr who started her career as a dancer on the "Sonny and Cher Show" and in films starring Elvis Presley and Annette Funicello. For years, she kept her illness secret despite rumors swirling around her intermittent limp. "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," she said. At times she has been wheelchair-bound or needed a cane to get around. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, two-thirds of people who have MS remain able to walk. "I call it the scum sucking pig of a disease that treats everyone differently," says Garr, who wrote about her experience with MS in "Speedbumps: Flooring It through Hollywood." With typical Garr humor she says the original title was going to be "Does this Wheelchair Make Me Look Fat?" "Some people don't get any symptoms, but I wasn't one of them," she said. "The most important thing is to stay strong and motivated no matter how rough it gets, because if I can do it then so can you."

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