Months after Jamie-Lynn Sigler revealed that she’s had multiple sclerosis for 15 years, the former Sopranos star spoke candidly with Glamour about what it’s like to live with the disease on a daily basis.
In January, Sigler revealed for the first time that she’s been battling the autoimmune disorder since she was 20. Multiple sclerosis is an illness that impacts the nervous system’s ability to function properly, often resulting in physical pain or stiffness, fatigue, bowel problems and cognition challenges, among other symptoms.
It’s unclear what causes the disease, and there’s no known cure. Multiple sclerosis is believed to impact over 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society — and women are two to three times more likely to develop the disease.
Sigler has Relapsing-Remitting MS, which is the most common of four types of the disease. Patients with Relapsing-Remitting MS fluctuate between periods with severe symptoms and periods with few to no symptoms.
In an interview with Glamour published on Monday, Sigler explained why she kept silent about her health for so long. “I had been keeping it a secret for so many years, and I couldn’t see anything positive coming out of it,” Sigler said. “I thought that work wouldn’t come anymore. I thought that people would see me as sick and not see me as me. I enjoyed when people didn’t know, because I thought that meant I was hiding it really well that nobody would know. For whatever reason, it felt like a positive thing for me.”
Sigler said she decided to come forward after her hypnotherapist convinced her that continuing to keep it a secret would only dampen her ability to heal. And Sigler realized that speaking up about her experiences could help others living with multiple sclerosis too.
The actress and mother of one told Glamour that she struggles with fatigue, physical pain and stiffness on a daily basis. But she says that she’s still receiving job offers and that she’s been able to push through the pain and have a fulfilling personal life — and yes, that includes sex.
“My husband is wonderful and great at making me feel good about myself—or trying to at least!” Sigler, who married baseball player Cutter Dykstra in January, shared. “But, like I said, there’s times I’m like, ‘I’m going to do this for him,‘ and then realize it’s actually for me too.”
Sigler, who will be honored at the Race to Erase MS charity gala in May, said that multiple sclerosis no longer makes her feel weak.
“I feel like I’ve learned a different meaning of the word strong. To me, I used to feel like I wasn’t strong, and I used to be strong, because I would equate everything with being physically strong,” Sigler told Glamour. “All my friends say to me, ‘You’re the strongest girl I know,’ and I am learning to accept when people tell me that and really believe it because we all are strong people, and we all have something, and [MS] is my something.”