Nancy Davis was told she would “never walk again” when she was shockingly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992, following what she thought was pain from a ski injury. At 33 years old, the young woman was told by doctors she had “the most impossible, difficult, tragic disease and that there would never be a cure,” she recalled in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife. Fast-forward to 2022, Nancy has raised over $50 million dollars through her non-profit organization Race To Erase MS, supporting the Center Without Walls program, a unique collaboration of the world’s leading MS research scientists currently representing Harvard, Yale, Cedars Sinai, University of Southern California, Oregon Health Science University, UC San Francisco, Johns Hopkins, and UCLA.
“There’s so much important knowledge to be found, and there is no such thing as a bad study. There’s so much to be learned,” Nancy told HL. “I’m probably the luckiest person I know living with MS today, because I’ve been doing really, really well. I was told in the beginning I wouldn’t be, but I’ve been able to live out a lot of dreams and the biggest dream I have is to find a cure for MS, and I feel it happening.”
Since founding Race To Erase MS 29 years ago, Nancy has expanded her rolodex of celebrity friends who come together year after year to put on the incredible annual Race To Erase MS gala. At the same time, many celebrities have opened up about their own battles with MS, like Selma Blair, who has become a friend of the philanthropist’s over the years. As someone who is battling the disease and a major advocate for those struggling, Nancy revealed the advice that she gave Selma and others when they received their diagnoses.
“When people are diagnosed, I really do get a lot of calls from people all over the country, and it’s nice. When I was diagnosed, there were no drugs on the market. There was no hope. Today, I’m so proud to say, there are 22 drugs on the market, and here’s what I tell people — there’s so many options and if one is not right for you, there’s something else,” she explained. “I think when someone’s diagnosed, having a label put on your life is quite sad and depressing, and depression is a side effect for people with MS, too. So, the idea is you need to empower yourself, cuddle yourself, love yourself, empower yourself.”
“Take a minute, take a beat, and find what is best for you, how this is going to affect your life and get second opinions. Don’t just go to one doctor, you have to find your best view and you have to know your body, your health and what works for you and there are options.” Nancy advised. “While that’s frustrating in the very beginning, you need to take a deep breath, take a beat, figure a way to talk to the family members and people around you and let your family help you, because it’s a family disease. The family has MS, and your support system is really important.”
Nancy also recalled her excitement for Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive Collection fashion show that will be held at the upcoming gala, and how her first meeting with Selma Blair made her realize how important inclusive fashion is. “I complimented her beautiful dress she was wearing and I said ‘That is so gorgeous,’ and she said, ‘Do you know how long it took me to put my dress on? 40 minutes,’” she recounted. “If you have any sort of a disability, I didn’t realize this before, how hard it is to get dressed. So, Tommy made this line and it is so genius. Anybody with a disability doesn’t need to feel different, he makes really beautiful clothes that are very practical and easy to get into for anyone.”
The Race To Erase MS Gala, which will take place on May 20th at the Fairmont Century Plaza, will also feature a special gift bag for guests, designed by one of Nancy’s favorite wildlife photographers and artists, Lars Beusker. “I don’t know how I talked him into it, but it is just so cool!” Nancy gushed, adding that one of Beusker’s highly-coveted, completely sold out works “Panther” will be up for auction at the event.
Other gift bag items include products from Peter Thomas Roth, Tate’s Bake Shop, Lele Sadoughi, Alice + Olivia, Eau Thermale Avène and many more! Visit the Race To Erase MS website for information and how you can get involved.