Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- See the Will Smith Joke Larry Wilmore Cut from His White House Correspondents' Dinner Monologue
- Read the Cover Story: Prince Harry: Finding My Purpose
- Dierks Bentley on How Touring Has Changed Most over the Years: 'Hangovers Last Longer Than They Used to'
- 6 Simple Steps for Taking a Flawless Selfie (#Nofilter Necessary)
- WATCH: Nikki Reed: 'Everything About Who I Am Is My Mom'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- September 27, 2010
- Vol. 74
- No. 10
Michaele Salahi: Her Private Pain
The Real Housewives Star Opens Up About Her Secret 17-Year Battle with Multiple Sclerosis
Now, after years of secrecy, she has decided to open up about the biggest. In Cirque du Salahi by Diane Dimond, Salahi, 44, reveals that she has multiple sclerosis, the potentially crippling nervous-system disorder that afflicts some 2.1 million people worldwide. "I would have never shared this," she says over dinner near the couple's rural Virginia farmhouse. "I never wanted pity."
Why speak out now? For all her immunity to criticism, Salahi admits that she hopes to clarify some things: It was a symptom flare-up, she says, that forced her and Tareq to leave that White House dinner early, fueling speculation that they'd snuck in. And then there's her weight. "With MS, if you weigh more, it's harder," says Salahi, who fluctuates between an admittedly "very thin" 123 and 127 lbs. "My doctor said, 'Keep your weight balanced.' For MS it's critical."
Mostly, though, she says she's speaking because "the media's digging. 'Is she anorexic? Did she have a drug past?' No. But there is something I've been dealing with, and hopefully it will help people to hear about it."
Salahi was just 27 when an abrupt loss of sensation in her limbs led to the diagnosis. "I said, 'Well, I don't want to live,'" she recalls, bursting into tears. Then a model and makeup artist, she was bedridden for eight months, remaining vague about why except to family. "My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to function on my own," she says.
Hers turned out to be among the 85 percent of MS cases categorized as "relapsing and remitting," meaning she can go years between full-blown relapses, which require steroids. Her symptoms include numbness, blurred vision and loss of balance.
Yet despite long symptom-free periods, the diagnosis haunted her, especially when Tareq proposed in '01 after nine months together. "I thought, 'What if he doesn't want this in his life?'" says Salahi, who shared the truth three weeks after accepting. Says Tareq, 41: "I was crushed, but I said, 'I wish I could take it for you.'" The couple decided against having children because pregnancy, while not considered risky, can sometimes make certain MS symptoms worse. "It's painful," says Salahi. "I would have been a great mom."
She has other things to occupy her, even if Housewives, which ends in October, is not renewed. She is weighing an offer to pose for Playboy and plans to reopen Tareq's Oasis Winery, shuttered after family infighting led to bankruptcy. "I don't think about tomorrow," she says. "I live every day like it's my last."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!