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Radio Host With MS Rises and Shines to Share Her Positivity























When it comes to her MS, the radio personality Jillian Escoto stays positive and respects her limits.Photo Courtesy of Joel Marasigan/Flashpointgrafix

Jillian Escoto thrives on healthy eating, exercise, and the support of her radio fans and cohosts.

When it comes to her MS, the radio personality Jillian Escoto stays positive and respects her limits.

Every weekday, Jillian Escoto’s alarm goes off at 3 a.m. She normally snoozes for another 15 minutes, but then it’s time to hit the ground running. That’s because at 5 a.m., she joins cohosts Sean Valentine and Kevin Manno in iHeartMedia’s Burbank, California, studio to wake up thousands of fans of the nationally syndicated radio show Valentine in the Morning.

For the next five hours, the cohosts converse with celebrities, play “battle of the sexes” with listeners, run down upcoming concerts and station events, and generally keep the banter in high gear.

The early start time and high-energy talk would be a challenge for anyone. For Escoto, 32, it’s especially critical that she balance her work and home life, because Escoto has multiple sclerosis (MS).

She goes to bed at 7 p.m. and sometimes naps when she gets home on Fridays. Other days, she powers through, undeterred.

“I can sleep until noon on weekends, and I do,” she says.

Diagnosed with MS in 2008 at age 23, Escoto says, “I used to say, ‘I’m not going to let MS affect me in any way, so I’m going to do and be everything I can.’ Well, that’s impossible.”

Now she does a reality check if she’s feeling “crummy.” “If I have to cancel dinner with my sister, she knows it’s the best thing for me, and I’ll say, ‘I am sooo sorry. MS is kicking my butt today.’”

Warning Signs and Symptoms

For a year before her diagnosis, Escoto remembers she felt “blah” all the time — achy and sometimes nauseated. But her bloodwork was good, so she chalked up her symptoms to stress.

Then her vision deteriorated. “It was as if somebody had freshly painted something and then smeared it,” she says. In addition, “I’d get cramps in my hands, when my fingers would tense up like claws — that had started in high school.”

At the time, Escoto was on a competitive dance team, and doctors thought she’d pinched a nerve. “Later, I also felt tingling from my hips down and numbness on the bottoms of my feet,” she says.

She also found that alcohol worsened her symptoms.

“When I would have one drink, I felt so dizzy and out of it. People thought I was a lightweight. Little did I know that these were all warning signs,” she says.

Diagnosis Brings Relief

Finally, Escoto found a checklist of MS symptoms online and took them to her doctor. An MRI confirmed a lesion in her brain and on her spinal cord. When she heard “MS,” she felt galvanized rather than overwhelmed.

“A sense of relief came over me that we finally knew what ‘it’ was,” she says. “I truly realized that I would be dealing with MS day in and day out for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a cold, and it wasn’t a headache. I decided to start taking care of myself to make sure that later in life I’d know I'd done all I could to feel my very best.”

Healthy Eating and Regular Exercise

Calling her symptoms manageable, Escoto says she’s learned to live with them and has a lot to be thankful for.

“It could be much worse. If I feel bad, that’s okay. I’ll take that. On a ‘bad day,’ it mostly affects my right side — my arm, leg, and side of my face, which can get so tingly it hurts or aches. When this is coming on, I might take a nap or just hang out at home.”

Initially, Escoto took the MS disease-modifying drug Copaxone (glatiramer) but found the side effects intolerable. She now focuses on lifestyle measures to control her condition, including changing her diet.

Eliminating sugar has been especially important. “If I even have a soda, I feel bad immediately,” Escoto says. She’s also allergic to gluten and has cut out dairy and processed foods, instead following a version of the Mediterranean diet that’s based on plant proteins.

Knowing the benefits of exercise for MS, Escoto practices yoga, does water aerobics, and takes spirited walks with her fiancé, Ryan Manno, Kevin’s brother and another radio cohost for iHeartMedia, on the Ellen K Morning Show, located “a mere 27 steps down the hall from me,” says Escoto.

Escoto and Manno plan to get married in May 2018 and then start a family.

“If Ryan could have kids today, he would. We’ll start trying when we get married,” Escoto says.

Support, Humor, and a Positive Attitude

Beyond eating right and exercising, Escoto smiles and laughs as much as possible. “It’s the best medicine,” she says. “I focus on the good things and try to stay positive. Sure, I do sometimes ask, ‘Why do I have this?’ and then I remember my amazing support system. That goes such a long way.”

Escoto and her morning team are annual supporters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Walk MS: Greater Los Angeles, which in 2017 took place on April 23 in Pasadena. “Team Jillian” raised more than $18,000.


Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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