Buffy star Emma Caulfield Ford opens up about ‘year of hell’ after MS diagnosis

Emma Caulfield Ford

Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Emma Caulfield Ford has spoken publicly about her experience of living with multiple sclerosis (MS), more than a decade after receiving her diagnosis.

The actor, who played Anya in the vampire cult classic and has most recently worked on WandaVision spoke with Vanity Fair about her journey since being diagnosed. 

Although she has kept her diagnosis hidden from family, colleagues and fans for several years, wanting to be open to her six-year-old daughter about her health problems has spurred her to speak. 

She was first alerted to a problem when she woke up with a numb left side of her face while filming Marti Noxon’s Gigantic.

After going to an acupuncturist she was encouraged to seek out a doctor under the assumption it was Bell’s palsy, caused by stress.

“That was literally the year of hell for me. There was so much going on. Really bad personal life stuff,” she told the magazine.

The actor then had an MRI scan. 

She received the results during a five-minute shooting break on set, and described hearing the MS diagnosis as an “out-of-body experience”. 

Given that her father also had MS, she continued: MS has been around in my sphere for a very, very long time…. I knew enough to be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m trying to keep my s**t together and I’ve got to go back to work’.

“So that was my first experience of keeping everything really quiet and showing up and just doing my job.”

Emma Caulfield Ford as Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (20th Century Fox Film)

Emma Caulfield Ford as Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (20th Century Fox Film)

Aside from telling some friends as she was “so overwhelmed and pretty hysterical”, Caulfield Ford kept her diagnosis private.

After further tests and revelations about viral meningitis that she had as a baby, doctors concluded that she “had it for a while and it’s been dormant” in her body. 

Despite her concerns, she maintained secrecy around her condition, adding: “I knew in my bones that if you talk about this, you’re just going to stop working.”

Due to productions not knowing she had MS, Caulfield Ford had to work in set conditions that badly affected her health, such as while filming WandVision in LA.

“The heat was unbearable. And I was feeling every inch of that. I got really weak.

“I just went into survival mode and I remember having to be outside…. It was just unfortunate timing really. But I was very, very uncomfortable and no one knew. I said nothing. And I paid the price for that.”

Emma Caulfield Ford’s interview comes just months after fellow actor Selma Blair spoke openly about her MS diagnosis to The Guardian.

Calling Blair “inspiring”, Caulfield added: “If me talking about this offers some solace or encouragement to somebody who has it, that’s so great…. I don’t own this condition. My experience is simply my own.”