March is a busy time for Americans, bringing St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA March Madness. Fox News and Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto hopes people also will see March as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.
A 30-year TV news vet, Cavuto has a personal stake in the promotion of MS Awareness: He was diagnosed with the disease in 1997, after beating stage-4 Hodgkin’s Disease in the ’80s. In acknowledgment of the monthlong efforts, he will participate in three community MS Walks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (“I’m using a cane to help me hobble through,” he says), and judge art and essay contests for children who have relatives with the disease. Ann Romney, a fellow victim of MS and Fox News frequenter, recently asked Cavuto to join the board of her Center for Neurologic Diseases, set to open next year at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The anchor will also host a fundraising event for the Tisch MS Research Center of New York, which is run by his own neurologist.
Cavuto credits March’s MS conversations with the rise in early diagnosis — and successful treatment — of the illness. “It’s no mystery that the diagnoses are increasing,” he says. “I don’t mean that as a bad thing. I think MS awareness can do that, and it can help people be educated on MS and realize that it’s not a death sentence. It’s the weirdest and wackiest disease out there, but it is survivable.”
When on the air, Cavuto is sometimes struck with a bout of MS symptoms. “I had to show people that in my down or shaky moments — my son calls them my ‘wiggly leg’ moments — they know it and see it, but I try to show them, whether I’m on air all night for midterm election coverage or conventions, that I can deal with this.”
Cavuto hopes his involvement with MS Awareness Month will be a source of hope to afflicted viewers. “I’d like to have people look up at the TV and say, ‘Gee, that guy seems to be doing OK with this,’ ” he says.