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Actress Selma Blair was writing history when she made her debut on Dancing with the Stars season 31, but now, that chapter is coming to an end because of her struggles with an autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis.
Selma has decided to be very public about her difficult health journey with multiple sclerosis (or MS) and its impact on her mobility, whether that meant talking about it on a large media platform or even taking the stage with a cane to present at the 2022 Emmy Awards. Even her service dog has become a well-known aspect of her life, accompanying her to DWTS rehearsals before her withdrawal due to medical issues.
Selma went public about her MS diagnosis back in 2018 and, since then, she has kept fans in the loop on her progress and various speed bumps along the way.
Here’s a look back at her MS journey so far:
What is multiple sclerosis, or MS?
MS is an often disabling autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. With MS, the body's immune system attacks nerve endings in the central nervous system, the National Institutes of Health explains. This disrupts the flow of information in the brain, as well as between the brain and body.
Symptoms can vary, but may include:
Numbness or tingling
Feelings of stiffness
2018: Selma is diagnosed with MS.
Selma initially shared that she had symptoms for at least five years before her official diagnosis, but thought she was just suffering from a pinched nerve.
“I have #multiplesclerosis,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it.”
Selma said that her friend, Elizabeth Berkley, urged her to see her brother, Jason Berkley, D.O., a neurologist in Los Angeles. Dr. Berkley diagnosed Selma with MS after "finding lesions on [an] MRI." (Lesions, or plaques as they are sometimes called, are areas of damage or scarring in the brain caused by the disease, per MSTrust.org).
"I have had symptoms for years," Selma said, "but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of [Jason Berkley] trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve."
Selma also said in the post that she thinks she could have been suffering from the incurable disease for 15 years before her diagnosis.
2019: Selma undergoes a stem cell transplant and chemo.
Selma revealed in 2019 that she was undergoing chemotherapy and a revolutionary stem cell transplant treatment to help with her MS symptoms. The treatments, she said in a since-deleted Instagram, caused her to lose her hair and forced her to be away from her home state of California—and her son—for two months.
She also said that she "had more chemo than they usually do for cancer patients, because they almost kill you," at the Time 100 Health Summit.
2019-2020: Selma provides updates on how the disease and treatments affects her day-to-day life.
In 2020, Selma went on to share that at times, she "was a mess with MS" and couldn't feel her hips or her left leg. But she was still trying to take things slow.
"I will always have MS, I now see. Always. But I am going to learn how to use this body, brain and emotions," she wrote in her IG caption.
August 2021: Selma is in remission.
While MS is incurable, the symptoms can improve for days, weeks, months, or years at a time, per Healthline.
"My prognosis is great. I'm in remission. Stem cell put me in remission," Selma said during a Discovery+ TCA panel in support of her documentary, per People. "It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down."
Selma also said that she was "reluctant to talk about it because I felt this need to be more healed and more fixed.”
May 2022: Selma publishes her memoir.
In one excerpt, Selma writes: "Now finally here it was, my diagnosis was the validation I’d been searching for… that I was human and that it was ok.”
September 2022: She attends the 2022 Emmy Awards.
Selma received a standing ovation when she appeared at the 2022 Emmy Awards.
“I never imagined I would walk across that stage and be given the truest gift for me. Love. Applause. Standing along with me,” she wrote on Instagram the following day.
“I have never been on this stage before. I haven’t had awards like this in my career, but my God, to be recognized by these brilliant talents. And loves. And icons. The ones who give us their life for this art. What admiration I have. I am basking in this moment. I thank you for having me. For embracing me. Humbled with gratitude.”
2022: Selma competes on DWTS season 31.
In September, Selma said on Instagram that she’s “so unbelievably grateful I can’t stop crying” about the fact that she gets to be on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.
She also told Good Morning America that she was “beyond thrilled” about the opportunity.
October 2022: Selma says she will leave DWTS and performs a final dance.
Selma had strong performances throughout the first few weeks of the season, but on October 17, viewers learned that it would be her last night on the dance floor.
In a pre-recorded clip, Selma revealed that she'd be withdrawing from the competition. "I had these MRIs and the results came back and it all adds up to—I can't, I can't go on with the competition," she told her partner Sasha Farber. "My body is definitely taking a hit. It's way too much for the safety of my bones... so I could do extensive damage."
For Selma's final performance, the pair waltzed to "What The World Needs Now Is Love," and she noted that the dance was dedicated to "everyone that has tried and hoped they could do more, but also, the power in realizing it’s time to walk away."
Many fans and other celebs praised Selma for her courage, including her Cruel Intentions costar, Sarah Michelle Gellar. "Selma, I’ve never been so proud of you (and I’m often proud of you). You make the rest of us believe that we can do anything," she wrote in a lengthy, heartfelt Instagram post.
Reflecting on what she's learned as a competitor, Selma shared that she realized "how much I love to be around people...how much I love to want to do something again."
Everyone is cheering you on, Selma!
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