Healthy Living

Meredith Vieira's Husband Richard Cohen Discusses Life with Multiple Sclerosis

Meredith Vieira's Husband Richard Cohen Discusses Life with Multiple Sclerosis

Richard Cohen is an Emmy-winning TV producer, notable journalist, and a veteran writer. He is also the husband of NBC correspondent Meredith Vieira. The two have been married for more than 30 years and they have 3 children together – Benjamin Edwin (born 1989), Gabriel (born 1991), and Lily (born 1993). Cohen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 25. When he met Vieira in the 1980s, he told her about his condition during their second date. “He asked me ‘What does MS mean to you?’ And I said ‘It’s a magazine. MS magazine.’ The worst that I thought was that he could lose his sight. And I was OK with that,” said Vieira.

The couple got married in 1986 and since then, Vieira has stood by her husband’s side through the difficult times. Still, she stresses that his condition has taken a toll on their marriage and restricts some of their opportunities. “I feel cheated sometimes. We used to run together and go on ski trips or go to the beach. Now, it’s very hard for Richard to stand. But we’re very lucky in what we do have,” she said. The couple try to look on the bright side of life and they say that a sense of humor helps. Although they take Cohen’s condition seriously, they are careful not to take themselves too seriously. “Richard’s a funny, sarcastic guy. If you can have a lightness to your step, it helps a lot,” said Vieira.

Sharing with their family

Vieira and Cohen did not tell their children about their father’s condition until Ben was 7, Gabriel was 5, and Lily was 3. During one instance, the three children saw their father fall backwards down a flight of stairs and land on his head. Vieira said that their children were sensitive, yet intuitive. She noted that Ben, the oldest child, did not know what was going on; however, he knew that something was not right. As they grew up, Ben, Gabriel, and Lily talked openly about MS at home, but they focused most often on normal everyday activities. “It definitely affects everybody in the family; it affects what you are able to do, how quickly you can do something… But everybody has something in their family that’s unique,” said Lily about MS.

Previous encounters with chronic illness

Cohen not only copes with MS, but he is also a two-time cancer survivor. He battled colon cancer in 1999 and again in 2000, after which he wrote Blindsided. During his second battle with cancer, he had hit a low point in his life. “I had worked so hard, really for my whole adult life, to stay up and positive and optimistic. And this was crushing. And I sort of took it out on the family. And I was very dark. I was very difficult to deal with. And Meredith came up to me and said, ‘You’ve got to stop this, you know? You’ve gotta stop treating your family this way. You know, they’re the ones who love you’,” he wrote.

Read on to learn more about Richard Cohen's ongoing battle with MS.

Photo: Today