Emma Caulfield is opening up about her multiple sclerosis diagnosis — after keeping it a secret for over a decade.
The WandaVision star was initially diagnosed back in 2010 but said she chose not to tell anyone for fear of its impact on her career.
Emma explained that she had “zero health problems” before she began experiencing symptoms, although her father also dealt with MS during his life.
“I woke up one morning and the left side of my face felt like there were a million ants crawling on it. That feeling when you’ve sat in a position too long? …The feeling’s gone and it’s coming back like a rush of blood,” Emma shared in a new interview with Vanity Fair.
She said that her face then began to feel “extremely dull” and, at the recommendation of her acupuncturist, she met with a neurologist to get an MRI.
The doctor ended up calling her while she was in the middle of a film shoot to tell her that she had MS, which she says “was like an out-of-body experience.”
“I’m like, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He was very matter of fact about it…It was literally a kind of nightmare,” she said. “Then I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to work now.’ What do I do?”
She says she eventually made the decision to keep pushing forward with her life and career — while keeping everything a secret from most people in her life.
“I was like, ‘I’m not going to live my life like I have something horrible. I’m going to do what I need to do to take care of myself. But I’m not going to live in fear,'” Emma explained.
She added that she “knew in [her] bones” that if she began to talk about her diagnosis, she was “just going to stop working.”
“I worked all through it. I’ve worked through it every single time I felt tired,” she said, noting that she shot WandaVision in the blazing heat, despite the temperatures causing her condition to flare.
“The heat was unbearable. And I was feeling every inch of that. I got really weak. I just went into survival mode and I remember having to be outside,” she said.
Emma continued, “It was just unfortunate timing really. But I was very, very uncomfortable and no one knew. I said nothing. And I paid the price for that.”
Now, Emma says she’s ready to share her diagnosis with the world because her young daughter, who has a greater chance of getting MS, changed her perspective.
“I’m not actually doing everything I can for her because I have my mouth shut. If I have a platform at all, I should be using it. Even if it affects my ability to get work,” Emma said.
She continued, “It’s better for me to at least be vocal about this and be out there to try to help the MS Foundation and other groups who are doing research.”
As of now, Emma says she’s doing okay and hopes that her honesty can offer “some solace or encouragement to somebody” else who has MS.
“It’s a weird thing to say when you’re given a diagnosis like that, but truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of ‘what if’ or ‘what can,’ or ‘what has’ for other people. I just have to keep going,” she concluded.