Revenge's Madeleine Stowe Gets Personal: My Father Had Multiple Sclerosis

Actress opens up about her father's suffering

By Marc Malkin Oct 14, 2014 1:00 PMTags
Madeline StoweJason Merritt/Getty Images

Madeleine Stowe's earliest memories of her father were of a man stricken with multiple sclerosis.

"My mother had told me that they thought he had it before she married him and it went into remission," the Revenge says. "Then when I was about three or four years old, they thought it was coming back. At five years old, I remember him walking on crutches. At six years old, I think he started to rely more and more on a wheelchair."

This was about 50 years ago. Her father lived for another 20 years. "My father had MS at a time when there were absolutely no treatments, no treatment options and he had it very severe," Stowe said. "He went from being a man who was walking, talking and standing to, in a very short time, being in a wheelchair.

"It was extraordinarily challenging for him and of course for the family," she said. "We would do things like clothe him, tie his shoes, bathe him. He lost control of everything."

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

And that is why Stowe signed on to be the face of Lights, Camera, Taken Action on MS, biotech giant Genzyme's new campaign to educate and empower people living with MS.

People living with MS and their family members are encouraged to share their stories at TakeActionMS.com.

Stowe didn't have many people to lean on. "I remember feeling moments of fury, I remember feeling moments of empathy," she said. "I remember feeling guilty going outside to play with kids because I always wanted to run back into the house to make sure he was OK. It was a trying thing, because in a sense I felt dually bound to be confined along with him and guilt about going out and trying to live my own life."

Stowe thinks her father would be "elated" by her new work in the MS community.

"I'm here as part of this campaign to talk about the role of family and caretakers," she said. "It's really important for people not to feel alone and not to isolate and to just bring everything out of the shadows and to talk about it."

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