She walked with a cane at the Oscars, significantly raising awareness of the condition. She posted a series of lighthearted videos to Instagram, in which she explained how MS has affected the way she applies make-up (“my fine motor skills aren’t, like, fine at this moment,” she joked during her tutorial). She cut her hair into a pixie cut because she no longer has the strength to lift her arms and brush her hair.
And now, in a recent appearance on Miley Cyrus’ Instagram live show Bright Minded, Blair has reflected on the lessons she’s learned from her diagnosis and subsequent self-isolation, in a bid to help steer people through the ongoing (and unprecedented) coronavirus pandemic.
“I have been pretty much in isolation for two years because of my physical issues that make it harder to get out, harder to speak, all of these things,” she said, when the subject of Covid-19 came up.
“Now everyone’s on this same kind of daily trajectory I’m on.”
It’s a very valid point. After all, it’s easy to assume that the new social distancing measures brought in to flatten the Covid-19 curve are similarly new to everyone. That they are, similarly, irritating to everyone. However, for many of those with weakened immune systems or underlying health issues, they are very much the norm – particularly during flu season.
In a bid to help those privileged enough to go into quarantine for the first time, Blair has decided to offer some advice. Essentially, she suggests that – rather than focus on the negatives – people try to approach this time of social-distancing as an opportunity for reflection.
“I love when people can find the real gift in it other than crisis and worry,” she said. “Be open but also really take this opportunity to be the best ‘you’ that you can be, to help your days along.”
Offering up an example of how she’s embraced her own time in isolation, Blair added: “This is an incredible time for me, because I’m home, and to have my son home and to be able to have people understand.
“There’s just nothing that gets me mad for long anymore, and it hasn’t for a couple of years.”
Blair later shared a photo of herself enjoying the jasmine flowers growing in her backyard.
“I am so pleased to be able to enjoy the bloom this year,” she captioned the shot simply, reminding her followers that there may come a time when this is no longer the case.
Speaking with Cyrus, she added: “I’m a middle-aged woman with an incurable disease, and it doesn’t even matter…
“I just really live in the moment. [Because] the moment is what we have, [even when] we hope for more.”
Blair, whose films include blockbusters Legally Blonde and The Sweetest Thing, was diagnosed with MS in August 2018. However, she has been suffering symptoms of the disease for years.
She says she was “never taken seriously” by doctors until she collapsed in front of one while struggling with what she thought was a trapped nerve (in fact, it was caused by brain lesions picked up by a subsequent MRI scan).
MS is an incurable condition affecting the brain or spinal cord, causing vision, balance and muscle problems. It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s to 30s (although it can develop at any age) – and it’s about two to three times more common in women than men.
However, much like many other “invisible” diseases, MS is rarely discussed openly. And this is despite the fact that an estimated 2.3 million people live with MS around the world.
“I’m pretty much a nobody in Hollywood,” Blair said previously. “But when I read comments on Instagram from people who were suffering, whether it was from MS, or anything, I thought, there’s a need for honesty about being disabled from someone recognisable.”
She added: “I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others, and even to myself. You can’t get help unless you ask.”
Do you or a loved one suffer from MS? Seek help and support with MS Society now.