Life with MS

David Osmond Inspires MS Community Through Song

By David Osmond

I’m David Osmond and my story is a lot like many others living with relapsing multiple sclerosis. It started with a difficult diagnosis, leading me through a journey from anger to denial, and eventually to the motivation to face this disease head-on. Following the experience of my diagnosis and treatment, I’ve been fortunate enough to share my story and help empower those who have also been affected by the disease. I have been able to use music to unite the MS community. I’ve always expressed myself best through music – to me, music is what feelings sound like. It is my hope that my story motivates and inspires others to become better self-advocates when dealing with the challenges MS brings.

I was diagnosed when I was 26, in the prime of my life. I noticed my first symptoms when I was performing in a show. My vision was affected, and then symptoms progressed from my feet, through my legs, back, chest, and even to my hands. I was scared because my family and I didn’t know what was wrong with me at the time. After many doctor visits and tests, I was finally diagnosed. I was relieved, but I was also in denial. I wasn’t exactly a stranger to MS because my dad, Alan Osmond, has another form of the disease. I thought I knew everything there was to know about MS, but in a very short time, my condition progressed beyond what I saw my father go through when I was growing up. I needed to do more research to better understand the battle ahead of me. I wasn’t ready for a disease-modifying treatment at the time, and I certainly wasn’t ready for needles. So, I decided to try to manage my MS through diet and exercise. At that time, I had about one to two relapses per year, experienced difficulty walking, and even had to use a wheelchair periodically.

It took me some time before I was ready to take an active approach to treating MS. I eventually realized that I was just coping and not doing everything I could to actively manage the disease. One part of this evolution stemmed from seeing my brother play on the floor with his kids. I questioned if I would ever be able to do that with my kids because of my relapsing MS. Once I got married and started my family, I wanted more than ever to make sure I was taking care of myself the best I could. When I received The National MS Society “Spirit of Life Award” in September 2010, my wife and I made a decision that I would dedicate myself to managing my MS so that I could continue to be active with my wife and kids now and in the future.

Last year, I teamed up with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation on an educational campaign, Our Voice in Song™, to inspire people living in the MS community to raise their voices and take charge of how they manage their disease. A lot has changed in the past few years and many more treatment options are available. Treating relapsing MS early is a crucial part of managing it. I researched what treatment options were available and worked closely with my doctor to understand the risks and benefits, eventually selecting an oral disease-modifying option that was right for me. Everyone’s experience with relapsing MS is different, so I would encourage anyone living with the disease to talk with their doctor about which treatment option would be best for them.

Now that I’ve taken charge of managing my relapsing MS head-on, I want others to do the same. I wrote a song, I Can Do This, based on my own experience and advice I received from my family when I was diagnosed. I hope this song helps inspire and motivate people living with relapsing MS get serious about actively managing their health. It’s been an amazing experience thus far working on Our Voice in Song and meeting others who are facing similar challenges.

This year, I’m continuing to meet with MS communities all over the U.S.

David Osmond is a solo music artist, Broadway performer, motivational speaker, and lead singer of The Osmonds 2nd Generation. He has performed in more than 17 countries and has had three top 40 hits in the U.K. David is a married father of two daughters and the nephew of Donny and Marie Osmond. A long-standing advocate since his diagnosis in 2006, he has received multiple awards for his commitment to the MS community.