When Loni Anderson’s daughter, Deidra Hoffman, started experiencing peculiar symptoms — fingers numb one day, a tingling in her spine the next — the actress was concerned.
Deidra, a busy mom of two teen girls at the time, had brushed it off as stress, but an MRI in 2009 soon revealed she suffered from a condition far more alarming: multiple sclerosis.
“I fell apart,” Loni admitted to Closer in a past exclusive interview of her reaction upon hearing her eldest child’s news. “I mean, I didn’t want to fall apart in front of her because I knew she was struggling to just maintain herself, but it was very difficult to come to grips with.”
Loni and her daughter in 1993.
When a frightened Deidra started breaking down, unable to eat or sleep, Loni quickly realized she’d have to stay strong for the family — not that the WKRP in Cincinnati star (and Burt Reynolds’ ex; their son, Quinton, is 28) is complaining.
“You have to go forward and make the best you can of it,” Loni, 71, told Closer in a previous interview. “This is a message of hope. Even though we don’t have a cure yet, we’re learning more all the time.”
It’s the moments Loni can’t be there for her daughter — who she had with her first husband, Bruce Hasselberg — that are the hardest. “Sometimes she doesn’t answer my calls if she’s having a bad day,” Loni says sadly.
Loni with Deidra and granddaughters McKenzie and Megan.
“It’s just easier,” admits Deidra, who is grateful, though, for her mom’s persistence. But Loni is usually present for “every MRI, every test, just to let Deidra know that I love her.”
Loni adds, “We’re such a close family, we all needed one another to really get to this point.”
For more exclusive news from Closer Weekly, be sure to sign up for our newsletter!