Montel Williams has led a life that—so far—has been as a king of daytime TV, host of a popular syndicated talk show (Daytime Emmy Award, 1996). Before that, even many of his fans do not know, he had a long and distinguished career in the Marines and the Navy (rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander). Life after TV has included work as a major-attraction motivational speaker. He has also had a hand in developing and marketing a wide range of products and services—the King of Infomercials. He was an effective spokesman for the insurance concept “Partnership for Prescription Assistance” (PPA) to help the under-served. Additionally, he helped launch Lenitiv Scientific, the medical-marijuana company which, under Lenitiv Labs, markets a wide range of cannabis-sourced products.
All of these amazing activities have been in spite of Montel’s contraction of MS (Multiple Sclerosis), diagnosed in 1998. Lenitiv Labs grew from his conviction, shared by many in the medical community, that cannabis aids as a coping agent to the physical challenges and pain of MS.
Also growing from the MS from which he suffers, is the MS Foundation that he established. Montel Williams does not only endure life’s challenges; he fights back, and often roars back.
He roared back in Lansing recently at the annual meeting of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI), where he was the keynote speaker. He also spoke to Innovative Health Magazine in an exclusive interview.
Those who remember his daytime talk show will picture Montel, as with most of his counterparts, sitting sedentary in a chair on stage, mike in hand, talking with guests. At the MIBIA conference—totally part of his personality but almost as if to shake his fist at the universe and prove how agile and active he is—Montel jumped off the stage.
With cordless mike and needing no podium or notes, he strode back and forth at the front of the large conference room. He walked to the back of the room as he talked, and returned down other aisles. A bundle of energy, he turned on a dime, waved his arms, and asked questions of his listeners, who almost were as exhausted as he should have been. Montel’s story had the audience alternately laughing or on the verge of tears. Of course, speaking to the Brain Injury Association, his visit focused on MS. “I woke up one morning in 1968,” he remembered, “itching and bleeding. For 27 days, I bled at night. I had tests at a New York hospital. I was baffled; so were the doctors. Birth defect? Injuries from my boxing days?” (Yes, that is also part of his resume.)
He had to fly to Hollywood about this time for a film project. His feet fell asleep on the plane, in a major way, and he needed assistance leaving the plane. Eight days of shooting was excruciating pain. But he was staying with a friend who was a doctor… and suggested a diagnosis of MS.
“African-American males have a propensity toward MS,” Montel said, “and, commonly, a 15 percent shorter life expectancy. We realized that I probably had symptoms since 1980, attributed to other things. I had left-side weakness, vision problems and emotional issues.”
Montel advocates for early detection, for diet and exercise, for extreme pushbacks (in the eyes of a changing culture and med
ical establishment) like cannabis regimens.
“There are 153 deaths a day from brain injuries,” he passionately noted. He spoke forcefully about the public’s perception of brain injuries and what can be done to fight them. “Traumatic brain injury [TBI] is not categorized as a chronic illness, and many millions suffer from TBI. But in America, we are short 400,000 doctors and 600,000 nurses.”
He climbs the ladder of logic, once he gets started. “People—not only the poor— should have better access to better healthcare. Kids see bad choices presented to them 20 times a day. Opioids! Our culture says, ‘If you aren’t happy, we’ve got a pill for that.’” With many healthcare professionals in his audience, he stopped and said sincerely, “I thank you. I thank you for your service,” in the same way the patriotic Williams thanks people in military uniforms, or veterans.
In his pushbacks against the ravages of MS, he recommends pushups to people. “Do periodic squats where you work. Tend to your spiritual self… I mean your emotional health. Every night, write down three things you did that day that will be worth talking about the next day! Read that list every morning; start every day with success!”
The 61-year-old Montel Williams takes doses of his own proverbial medicine daily, and to anyone who will listen. MS is not slowing him down, and not many other things are, either. Self-motivated, he is a personality with personality.
"Every night, write down three things you did that day that will be worth
talking about tomorrow."