I'd heard of multiple sclerosis, but I didn't really know what it was. I knew it meant excruciating pain and that eventually I could lose control of my body. I also knew there was no cure. That was enough to plunge me into the depths of despair.
During the next two months, I experienced the lowest moments of my life. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I became so despondent that I considered ending it all. But I knew my children and my family loved me and depended on me, and I couldn't let them down.
It became clear that I had a choice to make. I could spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself as the victim of a tragic fate. Or I could view my illness as a call to action -- an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions who suffer from MS and their loved ones.
As the host of my own nationally syndicated television talk show, I realized I had unique resources at my disposal to meet the MS challenge head on. I had both the means and the method to get the most up-to-date information available on MS from the planet's foremost authorities and spread the word.
I sought out the experts at Harvard Medical School. I traveled to Sweden for evaluation and treatment at the renowned Karolinska Institute. I read every book and article I could get my hands on, and I talked to countless people like myself who live every day with MS. I learned that I had been having MS episodes off and on for more than 20 years, but like so many, I was in denial about my illness.
Then in 1999, I went public with my battle against MS. Although I was warned that this disclosure could harm my career, I couldn't remain silent. I have one of the biggest mouths on this planet, and I decided to keep using it until everyone everywhere knows about MS, what can be done to fight it, and a cure is found.
To make this happen, I started The Montel Williams MS Foundation. Every dollar raised goes to research dedicated toward a cure for MS. I've also allied myself with Spotlight Health to promote widespread awareness of this dreadful disease because early diagnosis and treatment can help arrest suffering and loss of function. Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment prevents the progression of MS.
The world needs to know the warning signs of MS and the treatment options available. The world needs to understand that many more people have MS than current data indicates. The world needs to mobilize against MS and knock it out for good.
I believe to the depth of my soul that all of these goals can be achieved. It will take courage and commitment, but these are qualities we can help each other find in ourselves. I know we can build a future of hope and health, and together we're going to win.