CNN's John King on Coping with Multiple Sclerosis: 'It Impacts Every Hour of My Life'
"I remember like it was yesterday," King says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. "The first look at the MRI and the lesions that look like little dried flowers running up the spinal cord and nerves," he says. "I was petrified."
Until last month the CNN Inside Politics host, 58, kept his diagnosis a secret from friends and colleagues. But in an unplanned moment on his live show on Oct. 19, King revealed his private struggle with MS while making a point about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines and mask mandates to help protect the immunocompromised.
Sometimes it's really hard to explain to people you know and love, in part because you're hesitant to let them see it — you don't want pity — and in part because it's manageable, so you don't want them to be worried," he says. "I've probably waited too long, but if I can help stir a respectful conversation about common sense things that can help other people, I'm happy to be in that space."
"One of the reasons I've been reluctant to talk publicly about this is because I worry, 'There's that guy on TV. He has MS. He's fine. It must not be a big deal,' " he says. "MS is viciously cruel to people who get aggressive, progressive multiple sclerosis. It takes them from dancing to a wheelchair, sometimes in a period of months. It's horrible. It impacts every hour of my life. But I am incredibly lucky because mine is not aggressive, and because I have great doctors and great medical care."
King, who is father to Noah, 28, Hannah, 25, and Jonah, 10, from two past marriages, has relapsing-remitting MS, a type characterized by flare-ups interspersed with periods of recovery. He calls it "really annoying but not aggressive."
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He adds, "I'm a really lucky person who has a relatively moderate — in terms of the symptoms manifesting themselves — relationship with this disease."
For more on John King, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
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