I asked my doctor once about Meniere's Disease research...what was being done...who in particular was leading the charge, and so on. His response was rather melancholy. He explained that while dizziness is one of the most common complaints doctors throughout the world see in patients, very little has been done thus far to treat it. Very little money has gone into dizziness research, particularly for Meniere's-related dizziness. He explained that because Meniere's Disease is not life-threatening per se, it hasn't garnered the attention, funding and research that it deserves.
"But that's so lame!" was my eloquent reply. "Meniere's Disease is one of the cruelest, most debilitating, life altering, disabling diseases out there. Surely it deserves some attention."
"Yes, it certainly does, Skye," he assured me. "Alas, we don't have a Michael J. Fox. We don't have a face for Meniere's Disease-someone who can lobby on its behalf, someone who can demonstrate to the world just how terrible this disease can be. Thus far, while many celebrities have been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, none have come forward to help be the voice for change."
Well, I'm happy to report that things are finally changing.
I'm aware of several famous faces who have Meniere's, but never or rarely speak about it--former NBA star Steve Francis, actress Heather Locklear, musician Ryan Adams. Alas, who would have guessed that the first actress to come forward and really talk about the disease, the first one to agree to be the face for Meniere's, would be a 16 year old! Katie LeClerc, star of the ABC Family drama, Switched At Birth, is discussing her struggle with Meniere's Disease in several interviews, and has just filmed a PSA, the very first for Meniere's.
I recognize the difficulty in disclosing details about an illness, and I am so appreciative of her candor and courage. Giving a face to this disease is exactly what we need, and I am optimistic that as the public becomes more aware, they too will recognize the need to find a cure, so that future generations do not have to suffer.
I can't wait to see the PSA. If possible, I will post a copy of it here.
Here's a link to an interview with Katie LeClerc, in which she discusses acting with hearing loss and Meniere's Disease: