Why 'A Great Big World' Star Revealed He Has MS

Chad Vaccarino was diagnosed with the disease in college.

ByABC News
June 24, 2014, 9:30 AM

June 24, 2014 -- “A Great Big World” singer Chad Vaccarino says that his decision to announce Monday that he has multiple sclerosis is “just the start of the conversation.”

And just like the name of his band's monster hit "Say Something," Vaccarino, 28, says he thought long and hard about publicly saying something so personal.

“It’s just a big thing to put out there into the universe, into the world,” Vaccarino told ABC News’ Juju Chang of the three-minute video he released Monday with the news that he had been diagnosed with MS in 2007 while a senior in college.

“It’s, you know, one step at a time,” he said. “This is just the start of the conversation.”

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Vaccarino says in the video that he at first “didn’t believe” the diagnosis even though he was experiencing symptoms.

“I was experiencing buckling of my legs, vertigo, tingling in the arms and legs,” Vaccarino says in the video.

The former New York University music business student says he first tried weekly injectable medications but those made him feel worse than the disease itself.

“I would get sick the next day,” Vaccarino told ABC News. “I also started experiencing seizures from these drugs.”

Vaccarino’s treatment changed after he saw video of a TedXTalk by Dr. Terry Wahls, a medical doctor with progressive MS herself who said she changed the way she ate and became better.

Vaccarino immediately took Dr. Wahls’ advice and began following a Paleo diet, eating only foods that can be hunted and gathered, like meats and leafy greens. He also eliminated dairy and processed foods.

READ MORE: Is the Paleo Diet Right for You?

“They went away completely,” Vaccarino told ABC News of his symptoms. “It was all the diet and, you know, relieving of stress.”

While there is some evidence of a change in diet helping MS, it is sparse and many experts are dubious.

“There is no evidence that changing one’s diet will affect the course of multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Fred Lublin, director of the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, told ABC News.

Vaccarino explains in his video that he doesn’t know whether “it will work for everyone” but describes his own MS diagnosis as a “blessing in disguise.”

“I’m sharing my story today in the hopes that it might inspire you the way Dr. Wahls' story inspired me,” Vaccarino writes. “I don't know if it will work for everyone, but it did for me and I'm grateful.

“What I do know is that whether you have MS or not, if you give your mind and body what it needs, full health is possible,” he writes.