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Angie79
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Suzanne Rogers on Story: Part One

In 1984, Suzanne Rogers was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder characterized by weakness of various muscles. You're never "cured" as such, but Suzanne has been in remission since 1995. When the disease was active, her illness was written into the show. Now, Maggie (but, thankfully, not Suzanne) is suffering from a recurrence of the disease. "When it was active," Suzanne told us, "I was unable to speak. My eyes were affected by it; I had double vision. I had trouble speaking. I lost some hair. A lot of things were going on. They're going to approach it this time through the limbs, which is the other way you can get it. Because obviously I have to speak on the show! I can't very well have it of the throat and of the face the way I had it before."

"The thing is," Suzanne continued, "we as actors and actresses, everything is a visual. They usually shoot you from your waist up or from your shoulders up. It's your face. So when you've got something the matter, even a zit, it all shows. Everything is there. You see us. For me, this was very traumatic.

"Some people didn't handle it very well. Some 'friends' didn't handle it very well," Suzanne explained. "They couldn't understand it. It's not a disease that people have heard about very much. I was just so relieved that it was a disease that wasn't degenerative, that wouldn't get worse. I was so pleased with that, and that I could possibly go into remission, that I thought I was very lucky. But some friends were very uncomfortable around me. So there was a time there that I kind of cut people out of my life for about six months because they didn't understand and they made me worse when I got around them. And my doctor, I tried to explain things to him, and he said, there are going to be people that you will just have to cut out of your life for awhile and maybe forever. Maybe they will never understand and will never be able to get beyond this stage that you're in right now. Luckily, that didn't happen to me. The few people that I couldn't be around for awhile have come back into my life over the years."

Because of this, because of the lack of knowledge of the disease and the difficulty some people have in understanding it, Suzanne thinks it is of importance to bring it up on the show. "I think anytime you talk about something," Suzanne explained, "it's a good thing. Because someone has it. Someone in this world has it. We're in so many countries I'm getting so many fan letters from so many countries in the world that it's amazing. So someone in those countries is going to have this." As an example, Suzanne told us about a press trip she took to Australia a number of years ago. "In my hotel room, the day I got there, there was a note from a wife who said her husband had just been diagnosed with this illness that she thought I had and could I please call, which I did. This is what I mean. Somebody is going to have this. It's so reassuring because when I was told what I had, I went, what? What is this? Just give me a pill and let me get well. Instant gratification! Let's get it over with and get on with your life. It wasn't meant to be that way. When we help people, I think it all comes back to us."

Despite this, Suzanne wasn't completely thrilled when Executive Producer Gary Tomlin told her they were going to be bringing her illness back into story. "When I first heard it, I was a little squeamish. I thought it was a little too close to home," Suzanne said. But Gary told her about it and, as she said, "I thought, oh. Okay. I said I'm not totally thrilled about this. I figured, well, since he brought it up and he was kind of looking for me to react, I said it's just that it's very close to home. I know I'm in remission and I have been for a very long time. But it just kind of took me by surprise."

Suzanne continued, telling us that "after he talked to me that day, I got in the car and I was driving home and I was starting to go, oh, God, oh, God, I don't know about this. Then, I thought, okay. Let's just put this aside. If somebody said to you, your storyline is coming up and you're going to have problems with your sight. You're going to be blind. How would I approach this? I would go and start doing some research. Since it's going to be of the limbs, and not of the voice and face and whatever, then, okay, I will approach it the same way. I kind of could put it in its place. Instead of making it a big question mark or a big "X" in my mind, I put it in its place. That's where it's going to be and I will deal with it there. And let it go. When you leave the studio, let it go. I'm very comfortable with it, one way or the other."

In fact, Suzanne is more than comfortable with the show in general. "I said to someone several months ago, when I first came on the show, I had this joy," Suzanne said. "I've always loved coming to work. But there was such a camaraderie between all the actors that they wanted to do the best work and try to make things better and just find different things, different surprises, in the scripts. And it's that way now. And I'm thrilled. It's the most happy time that I've ever had on the show. That's how I feel about it. And I had that same joyfulness when I came on the show. It's lovely that it's come full circle for me. I'm just thrilled. And I'm thrilled they found me again. You're there, and you've always been there, but it's just lovely to have somebody come up to you and say, why aren't you working? I don't know! And they do something about it! Isn't that nice?"

It is more than nice, Suzanne, and we couldn't be more thrilled that they "found" you again.

http://daysofourlives.com/specials/interviews_detail_4396.html
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