New York, NY - Last July, in the midst of The Real L Word airing, Lauren Bedford Russell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As most people's first natural reaction, Lauren was frightened and shocked to receive such diagnosis at age 31.
The timing was as well quite ironic as the young reality TV star was at her prime in both her professional and personal life with a successful show, The Real L Word, airing to record breaking ratings, and a burgeoning successful relationship with her cast mate Kiyomi McCloskey, lead singer of Hunter Valentine, who both became the darlings of the show.
Lauren's first MS "episode" manifested with loss of vision in one eye known as optic neuritis. She has now regained her vision back for the most part.
For treatment she has been on a daily injection since August called Copaxone and has not had an "episode" since. Evidently the scary part about this disease is that anything can happen, a multitude of symptoms can occur at any time and Lauren now lives with this all too brutally real reality. But Lauren is headstrong on being positive about her new health situation, despite the occasional (human) "what if" moments.
"By publicly coming out about my recent MS diagnosis and becoming a fervent spokesperson for Multiple Sclerosis, I hope to turn my personal fight into public awareness to educate people about the warning signs, raise funds for more research and overall inspire positive change towards the disease, " says Lauren Bedford Russell, "I strongly believe in the power of one to make a difference, after all Jack Osbourne inspired me to go see my doctor as after hearing back in June of 2012 about the first symptoms he experienced, which were similar to mine, I suspected something was wrong with me. Now I am committed to do the same for others and plan working with the National MS Society in every possible way. I've already designed a special bracelet for my Lyons Fine Jewelry line called POSITIVITY BRACELET with 15% of the proceeds to be donated to the National MS Society."
MS is fast becoming a hot topic in the news as more celebrities don't turn a deaf ear to the disease and are speaking out about it. Clearly Lauren is not the only celebrity to receive a diagnosis or to lend her name to raising awareness for the disease, but she is the first openly out public figure to do so.
As we know, Jack Osbourne recently came out with MS joining celebrities in the likes of Ann Romney, Montel Williams, and Richard Pryor, to name a few, who are as well affected. Also First Lady Michelle Obama, recently spoke about her father's multiple sclerosis on a recent episode of "The Late Show With David Letterman."
By publicly speaking out about her MS diagnosis, Lauren hopes to turn her personal fight into public awareness, using her star-power to inspire positive change in the world. With Showtime having officially announced the cancelation of "The Real L Word" last week, we feel Lauren's announcement is timely as fans were anticipating their favorite character to be returning on the air for a fourth season.
Lauren gained a tremendous amount of media exposure in both mainstream and LGBT markets with features on MTV’s Style, Curve Magazine, People.com, Coco Perez, Riviera Magazine, and Curve Magazine, to name a few, successfully establishing herself as not only one of the new revelations of the show, but also as an artistically creative, engaging and socially conscious entrepreneur.
Beyond being a reality TV star, Lauren is first and foremost, the master mind behind Lyon Fine Jewelry - a high-end fashion jewelry company known for its popular Equality & Rock the Vote Bracelets (sported by the likes of Kelly Osborne, Jason Mraz, Perez Hilton, Patti Stanger, Cyndi Lauper, Judd Nelson, Kevin Jonas, to name a few) and most recently, Obama "FORWARD" bracelets in support of the Obama/Biden tickets and its commitment to LGBT rights/Equality (10% of the proceeds donated to the campaign).
At the helm of her Lyon Fine Jewelry, Lauren’s goal has been and still is to create statement pieces to spark conversations about important social causes and engage people to take action, stand up, speak up, shout out, and ultimately make a statement to make a difference.
And staying true to that philosophy, Lauren is now taking a brave step by publicly coming out with her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. She is taking on a new role speaking out on behalf of those 2.5 million people worldwide (including 400000 Americans) affected with Multiple Sclerosis, to educate and empower people as well as explain the need for more research.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the MS symptoms typically include muscle weakness, numbness or tingling sensations and problems with coordination and vision. More common in women, MS is usually diagnosed between age 20 and 40, and symptoms may start out mild, come and go or become so severe that a person becomes unable to speak or walk.
While Lauren is receiving the proper medical attention and care to deal with her disease, she refuses to play the victim and is committed to fight and make a difference. She is already scheduled to take part in the MS awareness week in NY and walk in the Philly MS walk.
However, for Lauren Bedford Russell MS Awareness isn't just an event in March: it's a way of life; yet a way of life she has fully embraced (just like her homosexuality) and does not see as a curse. Her goal is to enlighten people who think otherwise, and help those affected by the disease as well as their family members & friends understand and cope with it.
Again, staying true to her professional and personal principles of using her jewelry to be in the vanguard of social and political activism, and vigorously championing causes that are close to her heart, she has designed a special bracelet called "Positivity Bracelet" - which is orange (MS officially color) cord braided with a + sign in silver - - with 15% of the proceeds going to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society / New York City Chapter
Lauren has the power to carry the message to a important niche market as not only being a hugely popular and beloved member of the LGBT community but as well as a young woman taking on, like many others, the courageous challenge of leading a normal life while battling MS.
The "Positivity Bracelet" is a reminder for us all of the power of positive thinking in the face of adversity.
"What you think you become.” - Buddha.
Lauren Bedford Russell will next appear at the 23rd Anniversary of Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend held April 3-7 in Palm Springs, CA.