A Scar is Born: Kendall Leary's Diagnosis Story

A Scar is Born: Kendall Leary's Diagnosis Story

Kendall Leary is an actress and activist living in Brooklyn, NY whose life changed significantly when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) this past February. She is passionate about bringing awareness to MS and since her diagnosis has started an informative and uplifting website, Finding My Flare. You can find a variety of resources on her site surrounding debunking MS myths, navigating what to eat with MS, and much more. Below is Kendall's MS diagnosis story. 


It was a Sunday morning that my life changed forever. I attended my friend’s wedding Saturday night and — like all great stories— it started with a night of champagne and dancing followed by a horrible morning after. I woke up with a massive hangover. This hangover seemed different than others as my vision was blurry and doubled when I looked to my peripheral. I went three days continuously writing this off as a bad hangover before deciding to do an online telehealth visit. The doctor asked me questions and gave me a referral to an optometrist, but assured me that this was not an emergency and advised me to continue my week as normal. Things became more urgent that evening while sitting at my boyfriend’s birthday dinner with my parents and everyone started to realize that one of my eyes was, as they described, ‘lagging’ or moving separately from my other eye.

Long-story short, I ended up going to Mount Sinai Eye and Ear ER where I was seen by an ophthalmologist who, after conducting a thorough eye exam, rushed me to the Upper East Side Mount Sinai to get an emergency MRI. My MRI findings indicated a significant inflammatory event, my neurologists prepared me for an MS diagnosis. But more tests needed to be done so they could rule out MOGAD and NMO — close cousins of MS. The next six days included three more MRIs, a spinal tap, an EKG, bloodwork, and a daily dose of steroids. A happy coincidence amongst the misfortune: My assigned neurologist was a 20+ year MS specialist teaching aspiring neurologists at the hospital for a two-week clinical rotation. He and his team were truly incredible, thoughtful, funny, and kind during this entire process. Also, living in New York and having access to some of the best Neurologists and MS specialists in the world is a blessing that is not missed on me.

After my discharge from the hospital, I spent the first few weeks searching for success stories. I read multiple MS-related self-help books, joined Zoom support groups, and met with friends of friends who shared their personal stories with me. My partner of nine years took on the brunt of studying the clinical side of the disease. He looked at clinical trials, disease progressions, and DMTs (diseasemodifying therapy). In one month, he has gone from actor/bartender to now searching for jobs in the medical field. We decided that if MS is going to use us, well then we’re going to use it.

For the newly diagnosed; the way you deal with this is correct. There is no wrong way to process your diagnosis. Here are some things that may help you. Lean on the people around you. If you don’t want to research the “tough stuff” at first, delegate it. This one you’ve surely heard a million times by now (but it’s important), advocate for yourself. White lab coats are intimidating, but if you don’t fully understand something, ask. If you don’t think a certain treatment is right for you, speak up. Get a second opinion. Find a doctor with good bedside manners whom you trust and love (you’ll be spending a good amount of time with them after all). And if you are feeling misunderstood, I highly recommend finding a support group; whether that be through the MS Society, Facebook groups, or me! We are in this together. 


You can find Kendall on Instagram or through her website Finding My Flare

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