‘Introducing, Selma Blair’ Is An Intimate Look Into The Actress’ Life With MS, And Her Courageous Fight For Survival

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Selma Blair’s new Discovery documentary, Introducing, Selma Blair, shows a whole new side of the famous celeb. Known for fan favs like Legally Blonde, The Sweetest Thing, and Cruel Intentions, Blair has taken a step back from her career after she announced her multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis in 2018. In an Instagram post, she shared, “I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve. I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know. And share.”

Many of us have heard about and even experienced this degenerative neurological disease firsthand. After all, it affects more than a million people in the US. Celebrities like Jamie-Lynne Sigler, Montel Williams, and Christina Applegate have announced their personal struggles with MS. Even one of my favorite writers, Joan Didion, lives with MS, which she wrote about in The White Album.  


The Dying Of The Light

What sets Selma Blair’s documentary apart is not the fact that it covers Blair’s life and career, or even that it shares her personal experience in living with MS every day. It is deeply intimate and raw, but it’s also an exploration of what it means to be human: to live with MS, to struggle for some sense of normalcy, and to fight against death. In Dylan Thomas style, she rages against the “dying of the light.”

In the trailer, Blair says, “I always thought I was on a reality show, like I was in a documentary, but only God would see it and disapprove.” She explains, “I would like it to be as dramatic as I am. I was told to make plans for dying. Not because I have MS, but because I’m fighting MS…I feel like I’m in that Tom Hanks movie where he’s stranded on an island.” 

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A post shared by Selma Blair (@selmablair)

On Instagram, she said, “I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” 

Blair’s Best

In the documentary, Blair is vulnerable and insightful. Even though her MS diagnosis is relatively recent (2018), she has felt pain as long as she can remember. She periodically lost her vision, experienced ongoing dystonia and muscular-skeletal pain. It shaped who she became, both the loving side and the angry-snarky side. Despite all the pain and unwellness that she felt, she forced herself to get up every day and do what she could do. 

Now, when she gets angry, she tells herself, “You asked to be here!” She made a choice to undergo a stem cell transplant to force the MS progression to a standstill. She says, “[W]hen I took those stem cells and people went to such efforts to help me, the nurses, the hospital — that was my wake-up call. That was my kind of rebirth.”

Blair faces the realities of her MS by undergoing a risky two-month hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), under the care of Dr. Richard K. Burt at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She was told to plan for dying, and, in many ways, the procedure was her one and only path forward. Her documentary covers the entire process, including the chemo, stem cell infusion, and recovery. 

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My son went through a dual-autologous stem cell transplant, which follows the same process. His treatment was a last-ditch effort to get him into remission from cancer. Although I never personally went through that entire process, Blair’s documentary brings back so many memories of what my son went through. There were so many days and nights full of fevers, neutropenia, and pain.

Blair is unflinching. She tells People: “People don’t say how excruciating, emotionally, it can be to kind of prove you’re not well. But I want to tell the truth about MS. It is important to me that people see what living with a chronic illness is like.” She proved that she was not well, but she also took extraordinary lengths to overcome and turn the tide of MS. 

While it may not be a cure, Blair’s treatment has led to huge improvements. Her MS is in remission and there’s no sign of disease progression. So, she’ll continue to work through the side effects of MS, including the “gargantuan boulder” of fatigue. A more positive side effect of having MS, though, is that she is lending her voice as an advocate.

The Advocate

Blair demonstrates her strength. She will not stop. She says, “I’m working on it. Little by little, I can do all these things.” She embraces the now, but she’s also committed to raising awareness. 

In the documentary, she says, “We have a long time to be dead and I spent so long trying to kill myself or numb myself or check out or figure out how to be alive by being half dead. And now I just want to help other people feel better.”

Blair says, “I represent people with an illness or a speech problem or a movement disorder.” While the diagnosis is still devastating, and the story is heart wrenching, Blair is rising above what has happened to her to become a voice of hope.


What are your thoughts on Selma Blair and her documentary? We’d love to hear your comments below.

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