MS Warrior: Lori Grande
by Caroline Kyriakou
Lori Grande hosted the Fashion Plates event I attended in November 2013. She is a strong and funny woman and I wanted to learn more about her. Lori Grande is the co-host of the Boston morning show “JW and Lori in the Morning” on Country 102.5FM. I reached out to her and she was so receptive to the idea of an interview.
1. When were you diagnosed with MS?
I was diagnosed with MS 6 years ago. I had visited a friend of mine in London. When I came back I noticed my feet were very cold and tingly like they were asleep. I soaked them in hot water, rubbed them, and put on extra socks. Nothing worked.. so I went to the doctors and she was smart enough to send me to a neurologist. Then the many, many tests began. After I was diagnosed I remembered periods of weakness in my legs and times I was unable to walk for a few minutes. All those things started making sense.
2. What was your initial reaction to your diagnosis?
My initial reaction was total fear. I just thought, “I don’t want this!” I wanted it not to be true. I spent the weekend alone on the computer reading stories about people in wheelchairs and using canes. I thought well I will be in a wheelchair next year. I had no conception of what the diagnosis actually meant. Now, I wish I could pass along to other women and men that you can live a happy, healthy, productive life WITH MS.
3. How did your diagnosis effect your job, if any?
I have been very lucky to have had long periods of time without any problems. I did not tell anyone at work. I was scared to death.. afraid I would lose my job. In fact when I had told my boss that I would be hosting the Fashion Plates Luncheon and that all the models had MS, he “Can any of them walk?” So, with that kind of response, I knew I wouldn’t be telling him anytime soon. But, now that I have several healthy years under my belt, I had no problem telling him recently. He was wonderful about it. And I know I educated him. After one MRI, a couple years ago, the doctor found some new lesions. So I had to go in for steroid infusions for a couple days. Well, I worked the morning show, went for the infusions and then hosted a Country night at a restaurant. So luckily it all has gone very smoothly.
4. What is something positive MS has brought to your life?
I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world. People I most likely would not have met otherwise. At one point a few years ago, I was at a brunch at Piper McNeely’s house talking with several lovely women…and I thought Wow, I am exactly where I belong. It made me feel so good.
5. How do you manage your MS?
Now that I understand MS… I try not to get overtired or overheated. For instance, I won’t go for a walk in the middle of the day in the high heat. I also take vitamin D every day. I make sure I never miss a doctor’s appointment or MRI. I inject Copaxone once a day.
6. How did you get involved with Fashion Plates?
It was serendipitous!!! Anthony Edwards had a conflict and was unable to do it so someone asked Candy O’Terry from Magic [106.7 FM]. She couldn’t do it and asked ME! No one knew I had MS.. I thought.. How perfect that I would be involved with this particular luncheon. And of course the women are so wonderful, kind, and inspirational. And I was able to see all these beautiful ladies who were living healthy lives with “my” disease.
7. Are you involved with any other MS fundraisers?
I was lucky enough to do the MS ride on Martha’s Vineyard a couple years ago. I trained for it by increasing the length of my rides leading up to it. When I finished.. I must say.. it was the best moment of my life. Better than the day I got married.. Better than the day I got divorced. I never would have thought I could do that. And here I was doing it WITH MS. I will never forget that day.. and hope to do the ride again. I also have hosted the Climb to the Top at the Hancock tower for the past couple years. Another inspirational day.. especially seeing firefighters in full gear making the climb. Just this past winter I took part in an event to raise money for the MS Society at a store in the Natick Mall called Vineyard Vines. We had a band and a bar.. and the store donated a portion of the money people spent on clothes that day.
8. Do you ever talk about your MS on your morning show?
I have not talked about it on the air. But I have mentioned the luncheon and the inspirational women that take part in it. My partner JW knows I have it. I have not “come out” yet on the air. I don’t want to make my work with the MS society all about me. But I very interested in doing more with them and hopefully educating people about MS. The message I would like to get across to people recently diagnosed is that you don’t need to be so fearful. You can live a happy healthy life. There are so many fantastic medications available to people now. And that is because of all the amazing work that people have done at the MS society.
Caroline Kyriakou was diagnosed with MS in 2006. She enjoys reading, blogging, and is working on her first book. Caroline volunteers as a mentor through MS ActiveSource. She also is an administrator of a Facebook MS Support group, Friends Against the MonSter and writes other Blogs on MS Relief.