We all want to be as strong as a raging fire and as swift as a coursing river, but some of us have conditions which impede our abilities. The conditions with which we live determine the ease of attaining our dreams and maintaining a healthy life, but having a medical condition that holds you back does not have to keep you from whatever your goals may be; you just need to compensate and work harder. That’s something that I had to learn at a young age, something that millions of people across the world have to learn at some point, celebrities are no different.
We have a habit of placing celebrities on pedestals and admiring them as if there is nothing that could be “off” about them; they are just as human as you or me. Just like millions of us, there are a number of celebrities who are afflicted with one thing or another. I don’t know about you, but that is something which makes those individuals relatable. Some people may have shame in what they have, but there should not be. The only shame I can think of when it comes to illness is simply giving up on it. Here are 15 celebrities whose bodies are not only their worst enemies, but these are 15 people who refuse to just give up on themselves.
15. Magic Johnson – HIV
No list like this would be complete without mentioning Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr., who is perhaps the most famous person to be afflicted with an issue with their body’s ability to function; he is the first person many of us think of when we hear HIV/AIDS. The medical issues which Magic Johnson faces have not hindered his life in any way it seems. Magic was able to salvage much of his career as an athlete in the 1990s, competing as part of the “Dream Team” during the 1992 Olympics. The former point guard was not limited to sports; in fact, he has had a number of business ventures from being a co-owner of the Los Angeles Football Club to being a talk show host. His illness has served as an inspiration to not only Magic in his many business ventures, but to his millions of fans. Earvin Johnson Jr. has been referred to as a hero by President George Herbert Walker Bush and others. He spends a lot of his time as a motivational speaker and donates considerable amounts of time and money, through the Magic Johnson Foundation, to combat HIV/AIDS. He is a stand-up guy.
14. Halle Berry – Diabetic
Halle Berry has been awarded a number of awards throughout her life. She was ranked No. 1 in both People’s “Most Beautiful People in the World” and FHM’s “Sexiest Women in the World” in 2003; she also was named Esquire magazine’s “Sexiest Woman of the Year” in 2008. As well as being an award-winning actress, Halle Berry is also a diabetic. Her journey through the world as a diabetic began in 1989 while she was working on the ABC series, Living Dolls. Halle Berry’s diagnosis came after falling into a week-long diabetic coma onset. Over the course of more than a decade, Berry would become a vocal proponent for Diabetes awareness. In 2004, Novo Nordisk hired the actress as the spokesperson of their Diabetes Aware Campaign. This was a major boon for the diabetic community within the United States as it helped elevate the disease to the national spotlight. In 2007, Halle Berry claimed that she “weaned” herself off of insulin, which sparked anger from diabetics. ABC News released a report saying that she was more than likely misdiagnosed because of the similarities in symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes’ early stages.
13. Missy Elliot – Graves’ Disease
Many of us may know Missy Elliot as an entertainer, a record producer, and a philanthropist, but what many may not know, is that she suffers from Graves’ Disease. Graves’ Disease is an “immune disorder which results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones.” The award-winning and critically acclaimed performer was diagnosed with this terrible disease after nearly crashing her car due to her having leg spasms. In the aftermath of the near accident, her condition worsened. According to an article by CBS News, Missy Elliot’s struggle with the disease made it extremely difficult to do her job. According to her, she could not even grip a pen and write. There are a few things which can be done to alleviate symptoms, namely medications to treat the symptoms, surgery, and radiation therapy; the rapper underwent radiation treatment for Graves’ Disease. Since then, she has returned to writing, recording, and performing with a vengeance!
12. Toni Braxton – Lupus
Lupus is the condition where inflammation occurs because the immune system attacks the organs and tissues of different parts of the body. The disease can affect any number of tissues, but skin rashes are the most readily apparent sign. 49-year-old entertainer, Toni Braxton is just one of those who suffers from the disease. There are a number of trials and tribulations associated with it. According to Braxton, the most difficult part of living with the disease is the rigorous work of balancing her professional duties with taking care of herself. She said that sometimes, she just needs to “stay in bed all day,” in order to “take it easy.” When she is unable to manage the disease, she will have the audience take a greater part in the performance. In 2016, Braxton suffered a serious episode of the disease which put her briefly in the hospital. With all things considered, Toni Braxton’s attitude towards her illness and dealing with it should be considered admirable as she does not let it stop her from doing what she wants to do.
11. Michael J. Fox – Parkinson’s Disease
Michael J Fox is one of the world’s most beloved actors. His role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future franchise has helped to shape a part of American culture for generations! In 1991 Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. For a number of years, it was a closely guarded secret that he is afflicted with the disorder. In 2000 he retired from full-time acting, in part due to the disease. Since then he has worked tirelessly with the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to raise awareness of the disease and funding to eventually develop a cure. The Foundation was named by the New York Times as the premier institution for dealing with this disease. As of 2012, Mr. Fox has returned to full-time acting thanks to finding a treatment which makes his disorder easier to manage; this news was met with great enthusiasm from fans. Thanks to his seemingly endless work, Fox was awarded multiple lifetime achievement awards, all of which he deserves.
10. Shannen Doherty – Crohn’s Disease and Breast Cancer
Shannen Doherty is an actress most remembered for her role on Beverley Hills 90210, but on top of that, she is one of 700,000 Americans who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. The disease itself is an autoimmune disease whose symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, ulcers, bloody stool, and ulcers; other symptoms do exist. For most of the time since her diagnosis, Shannen Doherty has maintained a level of secrecy around her health issues; however, in an article with Star Magazine, she said that ”there is nothing sexy about women saying: ‘I have to go to the bathroom right now.’” Unfortunately, Doherty’s health concerns also include having been diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news about this, however, is that the popular actress has recently been informed that her cancer is in remission after undergoing a surgical procedure to remove the tumor. In her own words, she is “overwhelmed” by the news. Although the news is great to hear, she and everyone who has entered remission know that the years following remission are vitally important. Since millions of people are affected by cancer in one way or another, I think it is safe to say that we sympathize with her wholeheartedly.
9. Lady Gaga – Synovitis
Love her or hate her, you have to admit that Lady Gaga is a truly intoxicating performer. Aside from the trials of working to gain wider acceptance for members of the LGBTQ community, she is a victim of Synovitis. Synovitis is a disease which causes the inflammation of the synovial membrane, thus causing joints to swell. The pop star and actress had one episode which required her to not only cancel an entire tour but required her to undergo hip surgery! The surgery on the hip was due to an injury which was exacerbated by the swelling of the joint. Outside of the injury, Lady Gaga has not disclosed which, if any, other joints are affected. Piling on other health concerns, the 31-year-old entertainer had tested as “borderline positive” for Lupus. In an interview with Larry King, Gaga said that she was unaffected by symptoms. No matter what the state of her health is, this one starlet just never quits.
8. Jennifer Esposito – Celiac Disease
Jennifer Esposito is a household name because of her many ventures, including acting, baking, and health advocacy. Esposito has struggled with Celiac Disease, and other symptoms, but she was not formally diagnosed until 2010. This diagnosis would have a tremendous number of ramifications on her life, particularly regarding her work life. After she expressed a want to change her schedule in such a way that would allow her to better work around her illness, Esposito said that she was suspended from the show without pay. She was quoted as saying that, “I have been in the business for 20 years. There has been so many [types] of injustice in this business, but it’s what you sign up for; it is what it is.” She would further go on to clarify that this is simply something that people don’t understand about the disease. Many would agree with Jennifer that there needs to be more education regarding her disease and others.
7. Tamia – Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS as most people seem to call it, is one of the most feared diseases in the world. It targets the nervous system, the brain in particular. To the shock of many people, MS isn’t a death sentence so long as adequate treatment and care are given. The R&B singer’s diagnosis came at one of the worst possible times in 2003 as her husband had just been discharged from the hospital for a post-surgery staph infection. As you would expect anyone to be, Tamia was at first completely caught off guard, confused, and utterly heartbroken. Shortly thereafter she was told that she needs to take the proper care to ensure a long and healthy life; thus far Tamia has kept to her regimen. The attitude which the performer has expressed is one of resilience. She has made it a part of her mission to show that having a disease like MS is not a sign of weakness.
6. Charlie Sheen – HIV
Charlie Sheen is remembered for his role on the sitcom Two and a Half Men as well as his extremely erratic behavior. The actor revealed in late 2015 that he was HIV positive, which he described as being “three hard letters to absorb.” He told the press that he was diagnosed about four years earlier and that he was being extorted by some individuals to keep it a secret. Something which is highly commendable on Charlie Sheen’s part is that he supposedly was up front with his sexual partners since his diagnosis; many people may not be aware of this, but in many jurisdictions, within the United States it is illegal to not tell a sexual partner that you are infected with HIV. Whenever someone hears that they have HIV, a number of thoughts and fears race through the mind, but the good news is that a proper health regimen and taking the appropriate medications as directed by physicians, HIV is not a guaranteed death.
5. Morgan Freeman – Fibromyalgia
One of the most beloved and iconic men in the world is Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman suffers from Fibromyalgia. The disease is a musculoskeletal disease which causes constant pain, fatigue, and cognitive problems, among others. The man with what may be the smoothest voice in the world was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 after a car accident. As far as we know, Morgan Freeman takes the disease in stride, he was quoted in Esquire magazine saying, “There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I play golf. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land.” Morgan Freeman’s refusal to let anything stop him from living life just adds to the cool factor of the star. He may not be able to do some of his former hobbies, like piloting aircraft, but he will just keep going on his way being Morgan Freeman.
4. Hugh Jackman – Skin Cancer
Cancer, any kind of cancer, is absolutely terrifying to hear. When you hear it, the first images that come to your mind are chemotherapy, hair loss, and just withering away; it’s extremely horrifying to think about. Hugh Jackman was diagnosed with the most common form of skin cancer, basal carcinoma, in 2013. Jackman has refused to look down during his illness, making routine social media posts since he began his treatments and trying to encourage people who are suffering similar circumstances. Something which he has been most vocal about is the use of sunscreen. The 48-year-old movie star just takes the situation one moment at a time, telling fans in one of his tweets that it, “looks a lot worse with the dressing on then off!” Although basal carcinoma is not normally fatal, it is something that you never want to be diagnosed with. Hugh Jackman’s cancer diagnosis has had no seeming effect on his career.
3. Brandon Crombeen – Diabetic
Diseases, disorders and various health complications are a fact of life. Some of us remember people telling us that we couldn’t do certain things just because we have some sort of health issue, so seeing athletes like Brandon Crombeen is encouraging to see. The retired right-wing for several teams in the National Hockey League and is a type I diabetic. The 31-year-old was diagnosed at nine years of age with the disease. Brandon Crombeen credits his parents with how he was able to become a professional athlete. He was quoted as saying, “My family never let me feel sorry for myself. If [Diabetes] was something you were willing to take on and manage properly, you could do anything.” Crombeen refused to let an illness he had be a crutch, he wanted something and he took it. I very much relate to what he said as my family was adamant in making sure that I never saw my diabetes as a crutch. If you liked him or the teams he’s played for, you cannot deny that it is an accomplishment on his part to move beyond his disability.
2. Montel Williams – Multiple Sclerosis
Television star, radio host, actor, and a graduate of the US Naval Academy, there is no doubt that Montel Williams is a truly accomplished individual. At 60 years of age, he has already lived a full life. When Williams left the Naval Academy in 1980, he had to get the last of his inoculations, something which triggered his Multiple Sclerosis. He went to quite a number of doctors ranging from those provided by the Navy to Johns Hopkins, no one could understand what was happening; the disease was not well understood then. For 19 years, Montel Williams faced routine flare-ups and remission of symptoms before he was finally diagnosed. Williams refused to speak about his illness for years because of the stigma associated with being ill in the country, he refuses to let people think he is weak; something we all should be able to sympathize with. In an interview with WebMD, he said this, “I may not be able to run and play basketball but believe me, I can be there when you do and even if I have to roll myself up there, I’ll be there for you.” He is a true example of man’s indomitable will.
1. Justice Sonia Sotomayor – Diabetic
It takes a special kind of person to just be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States; it takes someone even more special to be confirmed. No matter what you think about her career on the Court, she is human just like the rest of us. Justice Sotomayor does not speak much about cases she presides over, nor their rulings, but she has been known to talk about her diabetes. She’s discussed the difficulties of diabetes and how young people need to learn that thin line between being in control and out of control. In her interviews on the subject, she was known to talk about the little things which we deal with to maintain control and make things easier, among them being the necessity of keeping glucose tablets (or something) nearby should a low blood glucose level come. She remarked how she keeps the necessary supplies near her at all times, be they for high or low blood glucose levels. In an article from Diabetes Forecast, she detailed how she abhorred any sense of pity for being diabetic; it’s just a part of her life and it is something that we should not be ashamed of.
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