Being sick is never any fun. Even a simple cold can put a damper on long-awaited plans and ruin a weekend, at the very least. Facing a life-threatening illness? That can be world-turning-upside-down complete devastation, no matter who you are. Celebrities may be immune to things like long grocery store lines, the stress of overdue bills and the absence of a hot date for Saturday night but one thing they are subjected to like the rest of the world’s population is the possibility of contracting diseases and even life-threatening illnesses.
We almost don’t expect them to get sick what with all of the latest trends in homeopathic health care that they have access to. The fact that money can’t protect them from everything makes them seem so fragile and vulnerable and reminds us that celebrities are humans just like us before anything else. While we hate to hear about a beloved star battling a disease, we rejoice at their recoveries and health triumphs and the strength that they instil in us by sharing the story of their fight. Here are fifteen celebrities who are bravely battling life-altering diseases and have courageously come forward to talk about their struggles.
15. Sharon Stone – Brain Aneurysm
Many people don’t know that Sharon Stone suffered from a condition that usually doesn’t leave survivors. Sixteen years ago, she had a brain aneurysm and miraculously lived to tell the tale. Most aneurysms are fatal but Sharon proves to be as tough as her last name. “I actually find aging a benefit, ” the 59-year-old veteran actress said of her health ordeal. “I don’t choose to make growing older a negative. I choose to get older. Growing older is my goal. That’s because in 2001, I had a massive brain hemorrhage. So I know what the alternative to growing older is. I bled in my brain for nine days. I spent two years learning to walk and talk again. I came home from that stroke stuttering, couldn’t read for two years. I was in an ICU for nine days and the survival rate for what I went through is very low. I don’t need someone to make me feel bad about growing older. I’ll tell you what makes you feel bad: when you think you might not. So I feel really good about talking and having my full vocabulary. It’s been a humbling journey.”
14. Missy Elliott – Graves’ Disease
In 2008, fans noticed that Missy Elliott lost a significant amount of weight. Many congratulated the singer on what they assumed was a health achievement. But that same year, Elliott was diagnosed with Graves’ disease which causes, among many other symptoms, extreme weight loss. “It causes hair loss, your eyes bulge,” Elliott says. “My blood pressure was always up from just overworking.” In fact, people (especially women) who tend to stress regularly or who are going through a particularly stressful time in their lives are at a higher risk for contracting the disease than people who aren’t stressed since the disease is caused by an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Eating well, exercising and avoiding stress as much as possible are all things that Elliott can do to help keep this serious condition under control.
13. Bret Michaels – Multiple Health Conditions Including A Brain Hemorrhage And Heart Disease
In 2010, rocker Bret Michaels was rushed to the ICU due to massive subarachnoid hemorrhage which means that the musician was bleeding beneath the thin tissue covering his brain. He described the pain as “getting hit in the head with a baseball bat over and over again.” That same year, Michaels went into surgery for an appendicitis. “They told me that if I had gone on stage like I wanted to, (my appendix) likely would have ruptured and I could have died,” he wrote on social media. “There is just no way around the fact that getting your appendix out HURTS. I have a pretty good threshold for pain, but this one hurts.” Sadly, the Poison frontman suffers from a multitude of health issues along with Type 1 diabetes and he’s also suffered a transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke as well. In 2014, he was hospitalized for kidney surgery and was rushed to the E.R. six times in two weeks.
12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Leukemia
At seven foot two and seventy years old today, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a living tribute of strength and determination to stand up tall (very tall!) to cancer. “I have chronic myeloid leukemia,” Abdul-Jabbar said in 2009. The basketball legend was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer in December 2008. He has said that the disease “doesn’t impact my life too significantly” since it was thankfully caught early enough. Soon after his own diagnosis, Abdul-Jabbar decided that he wanted to help make a difference in the lives of other cancer patients. “I think it’s possible for someone in my position to help save lives,” he has said. He spearheaded an educational campaign after he was in disbelief hearing that some cancer patients don’t believe in taking their medications regularly. The campaign is sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Novartis and Abdul-Jabbar travels to help educate the public on the importance of doing everything possible to increase the survival rate of people diagnosed with cancer.
11. Aaron Carter – Eating Disorder (Hiatal Hernia) And Various Addictions
Mere days ago, Aaron Carter sank into his chair with relief as he was told on national television that his HIV test came back negative. Carter was shaking as he asked the doctor to confirm that he did not have HIV. The former pop star told the host of The Doctors that he was worried about contracting the disease because he hadn’t always been careful in the past when it came to being intimate with multiple partners. Even though he does not have HIV or any other intimately transmitted diseases, he is still only one hundred and fifteen pounds at six feet tall with a body mass index of just seventeen which Dr. Stork called “scary.” Dr. Rodriguez agreed, adding that he thought Carter’s body was “hanging on by a thread.” Carter confirmed that he has suffered from a hiatal hernia which created an eating disorder for him. He also admitted to being addicted to cosmetic surgical procedures and painkillers. Carter confessed that he won’t stop getting filler injections because having them done makes him smile but he would like to get better.
10. Sarah Hyland – Kidney Dysplasia
Sarah Hyland has valiantly battled kidney dysplasia since childhood and things got so bad in 2012 that she required a kidney transplant. Sarah has received some support from fans but sadly, the issue of her weight loss and appearance of a slightly swollen face due to the prednisone medication she must take to stay healthy caused some online bullies to attack her for her physical appearance. Like her TV sister, Ariel Winter, Sarah took to Twitter to shut down the body-shaming bullies. “I don’t mind when you say that I look pregnant,” Sarah tweeted to the bullies. “Or fat. Because I know that my face is swollen from my medication that is saving my life. For those on Prednisone, I know what you’re going through and I commend you sticking it out as I have. My self-confidence is not rendered from your comments. Because I will always be too fat. I will always be too skinny. I will never have enough curves to be called a woman. And I will always be a slut for wearing a push-up bra. Love the you you set out to be. Be the best version of yourself. Be healthy.”
9. Hugh Jackman – Skin Cancer (Basal Cell Carcinoma)
You’ve likely seen at least a few photos of The Wolverine star Hugh Jackman smiling on a sunny beach as he happily dips in a pristine ocean’s waters. But all of those happy times may have come at a cost. The well-built star was diagnosed back in 2013 with skin cancer and has been treated three times in 2014 alone for basal cell carcinoma on his nose and face. Earlier this year in 2017, Jackman had the sixth skin cancer removed from his nose and posted the photo above with the caption, “Looks worse with the dressing on than off. I swear! Another basal cell carcinoma. Thanks to frequent body checks and amazing doctors.” Ever the good sport, Jackman has taken his health scare and turned it into an opportunity to teach others about skin care. “PLEASE USE SUNSCREEN and get regular check-ups,” the star urges his fans. The American Cancer Society says that basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of cancer in humans. It is a slow-growing cancer which (thankfully) rarely spreads to other parts of the body. “The beauty of all this is that it’s all preventable,” Jackman said, keeping things positive.
8. Beth Chapman – Stage Two Throat Cancer
Hardcore bounty hunter babe Beth Chapman has chased down some of the baddest “bruddahs” that Hawaii has to offer but just days ago of this writing, she bravely broke the news that she is now in a fight for her life. “After months of a nagging cough, a routine checkup resulted in a diagnosis of stage II throat cancer,” Beth wrote in a letter to her close friends. “I have what is referred to as a T2 Tumor in my throat that is blocking my breathing. My doctors are suggesting immediate treatment and surgery before the disease progresses.” Doctors won’t be able to provide the former bounty hunter with a proper prognosis until they perform surgery to try and hopefully remove the tumor. “I’ve stared down the devil more than once in my life but I’ve never faced a real life or death decision,” Beth said in an interview. “I’ve never been a victim and I won’t let cancer beat me.”
7. Selena Gomez – Lupus (And A Kidney Transplant)
Just a few days ago as of this writing, fans found out via an Instagram post that Selena Gomez had a kidney transplant over the summer. The donor was none other than Francia Raisa who stars as Adrian Lee on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and who Gomez calls her best friend. “So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health,” Gomez captioned this photo on her Instagram account. “And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis.” On an appearance of The Ellen Show, Gomez told Ellen that she will have Lupus forever and she just needs to take care of herself to manage the disease properly.
6. Lil Wayne – Seizures (From Epilepsy Or Sizzurp?)
In 2013, Lil Wayne opened up to longtime MTV correspondent Sway about the health issues he was facing. “No warning, no nothing,” the rapper told Sway of what happens before his seizures. “I don’t feel sick. I get headaches real bad. And the headaches? I didn’t get no headaches or nothing.” Lil Wayne also noted that he was under the regular care of a doctor but his doctor hadn’t mentioned any major lifestyle changes that would interrupt his current standard of living. “He didn’t tell me to do too much that a human doesn’t do anyway,” he said. “Sleep and eat right, that’s about it.” However it looks like that was bad advice as just a few weeks ago, news broke that the rapper was hospitalized in Chicago due to multiple seizures. Lil Wayne has always claimed that epilepsy is the cause of the seizures but concerned fans worry that it’s actually his non-stop habit of drinking “sizzurp” – a homemade codeine cough syrup concoction which has been known to cause seizures.
5. Lady Gaga – Synovitis (Possibly Lupus?)
Does Lady Gaga have Lupus or not? That’s what her fans wanted to know. The singer took to Larry King Live to try and set the record straight back in 2010. But when it comes to Lupus, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer. Things aren’t black and white with the disease since there are still many things about it that are a mystery to modern medicine. “Lupus is in my family, and it is genetic,” the singer told King. “And it’s so funny because my mother told me the other day that my fans were quite worried about me because they did talk about the fact that I was tested for lupus. And the truth is I don’t show any signs, any symptoms of lupus. But I have tested borderline positive for the disease. So as of right now … I do not have it. But I have to take good care of myself.” She later revealed to King that the disease claimed her aunt’s life. What Lady Gaga does have is a condition called synovitis. It causes inflammation of the membrane that lines joints. She once had to cancel a tour due to the terrible joint pain.
4. Frankie Muniz – Transient Ischemic Attack (Also Known As A Mini-Stroke)
Frankie Muniz is a former child star from Malcolm in the Middle who is now worth millions. He is also a great example of the old saying that money can’t buy happiness. Wealthy does not equal healthy. Even billionaires must take care of themselves by eating the proper nutrients and getting plenty of routine exercise. Frankie seems to have acknowledged this by taking his health scare as a wake-up call. He took to Twitter to state, “I was in the hospital last Friday. I suffered a “Mini Stroke”, which was not fun at all. Have to start taking care of my body! Getting old!” But Frankie was hardly old being just 26 in 2012 when he was riding his motorcycle and suddenly experienced vision loss in one eye. “I couldn’t say words,” he said. “I thought I was saying them! My fiancee was looking at me like I was speaking a foreign language.” Sadly, around fifty thousand Americans will experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA) also called a mini-stroke every year, and it’s estimated that around one-third of those fifty thousand will go on to suffer an acute stroke sometime in the future.
3. Toni Braxton – Heart Disease And Lupus
In October of 2016, singer Toni Braxton revealed to fans that she had to spend time in a hospital due to Lupus flare-ups. She ended up spending four days in the hospital. Braxton admitted that the disease is genetic and her 2014 memoir, Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir, she wrote of her uncle passing away from the same disease. “Some days I can’t balance it all. I just have to lay in bed,” Braxton said. “Pretty much when you have lupus you feel like you have the flu every day. But some days you get through it. But for me, if I’m not feeling well, I tend to tell my kids, ‘Oh mommy’s just going to relax in bed today.’ I kind of take it easy.” Braxton was previously hospitalized in 2012 for similar complications of the disease.
2. Venus Williams – Sjögren’s syndrome
Fatigue and joint pain caused tennis superstar Venus Williams to officially withdraw from her spot in the U.S. Open in 2011. Sjögren’s (pronounced: show–grens) syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle pain, joint pain and overall fatigue. There is some connection to this disease and Lupus. Some Sjögren’s syndrome patients will go on to contract Lupus, another autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune cells start to attack healthy tissues. As of this writing, it’s only known that Williams has Sjögren’s syndrome. To combat the disease, Venus went vegan and stated that, “The vegan diet was a big change for me and I am still adjusting… I believe it is the most sustainable way to eat and it really renews your body. The thing that has helped me most is high iron intake, along with eliminating cane sugar and corn syrup.” As for her results of the changes, the athlete stated, “Amazing skin! Also low body fat but I am not really looking for any other results.”
1. Halle Berry – Diabetes
When 19-year-old Halle Berry got her first big break as a cast member of the 1989 TV show Living Dolls alongside Leah Remini, what should have been a joyous time in the young actress’ life was marred by an ugly experience when she lapsed into a diabetic coma during a taping of the show. Shortly afterward, Berry was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1. When a health magazine asked how the 51-year-old stays in such amazing shape, the actress said, “Adding vegetable protein to a shake sustains my energy throughout the day. No matter what, every day I exercise for at least 30 minutes. I became much healthier as I learned how to manage it. It took a couple of years, and some scary situations, to accept that it was a lifestyle change and not a diet I could stop in six months. It meant learning to eat healthy and understanding that carbs break down to sugar quickly. I cut (most) processed sugar from my diet… lots of vegetables; no breads … and lots of water.”
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