Jamie-Lynn Sigler has learned some “beautiful lessons” through living with multiple sclerosis.
The Mob Town actress, 38, stopped by the Today show on Thursday and opened up about how her relationship with the condition has changed over the years.
“I’m doing very well,” Sigler said as she outlined her journey. “I’ve lived with it for 18 years and so much of it was focused on the physical part of the journey and the way it affects me and obviously it still does today, but now it’s been more [of] paying attention to the emotional part. I don’t think people realize emotionally how much a chronic illness can affect you.”
These days, Sigler is focusing more on the positives that have come out of her experience.
“It’s transitioned from feeling like a victim and what it’s taken away to more of what it’s given me. And it’s given me a lot,” she shared, adding that one of the most “beautiful lessons is realizing how kind people are.”
“It’s very hard for me to ask for help, but I’ve realized people like to feel needed, they like to be of service and helpful,” she added. “It’s allowed me to have some beautiful interactions and I just am appreciative of that.”
While Sigler’s youngest son, Jack Adam, 22 months, is still a little young to understand her diagnosis, the actress says her older son Beau Kyle, 6, “totally gets it.”
“Sometimes he asks questions, but you know, my kids make me feel like a superhero. They don’t know any different, I’m the only mommy that they know,” she shared, adding that Beau “never complains.”
“He understands if I say I need to sit down or let’s just do some Leggos, I need to hang out,” she explained. “I think I’m the only one who overanalyzes or feels guilty that I can’t do things. They don’t mind at all.”
Sigler, who was diagnosed with MS when she was 20 years old, admitted in March that she worries about how the condition, which damages the central nervous system, has impacted her boys.
“MS — any chronic illness, really — becomes your whole family’s disease, not just your own,” she wrote in an emotional essay for Shondaland.com, explaining that when she first learned she was pregnant with Beau she was “terrified.”
“A million thoughts ran through my head. What if he runs off and I can’t chase him one day?” the actress recalled. “What if I can’t carry him up and down the stairs? What if he won’t want to play with me because I can’t be the ‘fun mom’ who runs on the beach with him, or chases him around the house?”
However, with over a year of parenting two children under her belt, Sigler noted that she’s found her stride and is present for her sons “each and every day” — and despite her fears about “not being enough,” the actress said her “two little boys give me all the love and reassurance I’ll ever need.”
“They don’t ask why I move the way I do, why I need help up stairs sometimes or why Daddy rubs my legs a lot,” she wrote. “They have shown me that I don’t need anything, good or bad, working or not, disease or no disease, to be deserving of love.”
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