Remember the Osmond Brothers – the famous performers of the 1970s – who sang their way into America’s living rooms before Donnie and Marie took the stage? What you might not know is that both oldest brother Alan Osmond and his son David live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Father and son are not just coping with this disease but thriving. Since March is MS Awareness month, we’ve been featuring celebrities with MS on our Facebook and are inspired by the Osmonds’ story.
When Alan was diagnosed with MS, it led to his early retirement from the performing with Osmonds. Shockingly, David was forced to put his own career on hold, due to his diagnosis and physical battle with MS. David, the lead singer for the Osmonds – Second Generation, enjoys a successful solo career and even participated in the eighth season of American Idol.
However, in 2005 at age 26 David didn’t know if he’d be able to walk again, let alone perform. The crushing pain in his chest and paralysis in his whole body put him in a wheelchair. With a diagnosis of MS and unsure of his future, David had the courage to move forward. Powerful steroid shots helped him walk down the aisle to his beautiful bride, Valerie in 2007. He has not been back in his wheelchair since and the couple now has two beautiful daughters.
What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis – which affects 2.5 million people worldwide – is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. Basically, scars and lesions cause interference with the transmission of signals to the brain and spinal cord that then cause the unpredictable and often debilitating symptoms, such as numbness, tingling and intense pain in the extremities, periods of partial or full blindness, loss of sensory function and even full paralysis. There is no cure.
Is MS genetic?
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society states that siblings or children of those with MS have a 1 in 40 risk of also having MS. While researchers feel there may be genetic predictors for MS, there is no clear connection that one generation passes it to another.
Does diet and exercise affect symptoms?
Father and son embrace all-natural homeopathic remedies and David takes up to 50 all-natural supplements a day, while Alan adds a daily dose of Vitamin D. They believe in using essential oils, such as Frankincense, for aromatherapy and follow a healthy diet based on gluten-free and casein-free foods with limited meat and other proteins. The all-natural diet helped Alan manage his MS symptoms and lose 30 pounds.
Alan enjoys hydro-exercise which not only takes pressure off painful joints but also helps with balance. In addition, both Alan and David avoid cigarettes, coffee and caffeine as part of their Church of Latter Day Saints faith. And they believe in the power of prayer and positive thinking.
What role do caregivers play?
Both Alan and David credit their wives with the unconditional love and support that has held their marriages together. According to the National Health Institute Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 75 percent of marriages among those couples dealing with a chronic illness end in divorce – 50 percent higher than the overall national divorce rate.
“There is a good side to every challenge in life,” says David. “Sometimes dealing with something like multiple sclerosis can make your marriage better, I know both my wife and I have learned more patience with each other through this journey and I absolutely would not be where I am at today in conquering MS without her.”
How does a positive outlook help?
Like many celebrities with MS, both Osmonds have found ways to deal with it and overcome many obstacles and their prognosis.
[pullquote]David follows his father’s words of wisdom: “I may have MS, but MS does NOT have me,” and has been able to become a symbol of hope to the MS Community.[/pullquote]
Alan’s motto is “You have to be TUFF.” It stands for: Target what you need to do; Understand everything you can about the challenge in front of you; Focus on how to live with or beat that challenge; Fight, Fight, Fight – you have to have the drive and desire to keep living and keep fighting for yourself and those around you.
David recently released a new hit song on FUSE.com entitled, “I Can Do This.” A potential anthem for anyone impacted by MS, it chronicles his battle with MS and how he finds strength through music. He understands that his debilitating symptoms can reoccur at any time. “People ask me all the time, ‘How you doing?’ and I tell them, ‘It’s the best day of my life, because I’m still here, on this planet, still breathing.’”
David is grateful that, as he has learned more about MS, he has learned more about his father. And when he sees how many clinical trials are underway, he has reason to hope there will never be a third generation of Osmonds with MS.
Watch this touching video that shares more of David’s story: