Jamie Lynn Sigler shares some devastating news in the latest issue of PEOPLE: she has MS, and has been battling the disease for 15 years.
The actress — best known for playing mob boss Tony Soprano’s daughter Meadow on The Sopranos, tells PEOPLE that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was just 20, explaining she “wasn’t ready until now”; to go public about it.
“You’d think that after all these years, somebody would be settled with something like this,”; says, “but it’s still hard to accept.”;
Sigler, 34, who recently married baseball player Cutter Dykstra, says she didn’t experience any MS symptoms “for quite some time,”; but admits the disease has “reared its ugly head”; in recent years. “I can’t walk for a long period of time without resting. I cannot run. No superhero roles for me,”; she says with a laugh. “Stairs? I can do them but they’re not the easiest. When I walk, I have to think about every single step, which is annoying and frustrating.”;
She says he concealed her illness while filming The Sopranos. “Sometimes all I needed was like five or 10 minutes to sit and recharge but I wouldn’t ask, because I didn’t want them to be suspicious,”; she says.
One of the few people in whom she confided was her TV father James Gandolfini, who “was very aware and protective in general, but especially after I told him,”; Sigler says. “He was really awesome about it.”;
There is currently no cure for MS, and Sigler says she has “run the gamut”; with various treatments, including injections and infusions. She says she has been able to keep her symptoms at bay for the past six years by taking a pill, Tecfidera, twice a day.
“Things are manageable now,”; she says. “It takes a fighting attitude to deal with all this. This disease can absolutely take over your life if you let it.”;
She credits her husband and their two-year-old son for her decision to go public about her MS. “I didn’t want him to get to an age where he felt like he had to keep this secret for me as well,”; she says. “I wanted to be an example to him of strength and courage.”;
You can read more with Jamie Lynn Sigler — and see exclusive photos from her wedding album — in the new issue of PEOPLE, which hits newsstands on Friday, Jan. 22.