Underneath all of the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood lifestyle, celebrities really are just like us. They all have to deal with the normal ups and downs of life, like relationship problems, substance abuse problems, issues with work, family drama, and of course health problems too. Presumably fame and money helps them alleviate a lot of these problems, but in some cases it can make the problems worse. And I’m sure having an unimaginable amount of money plus a worldwide platform to make your wants and needs known definitely helps when celebs have to confront health issues, but being under that kind of microscope when you’re seriously hurting or ill must also be pretty tough, especially if you’re not quite ready to share your pain with the entire world.
If the issue is mild enough then usually it can be kept a secret, but just like any normal person, sometimes celebrities get so sick that it’s nearly impossible to hide it, or at least it’s impossible to hide that something is seriously wrong. It can be scary to discuss these kinds of problems publicly, especially if it’s something that could affect your ability to work (which I’m sure is a fear anyone who’s ever been sick can relate to), but famous people can sometimes have a hard time controlling the narrative around them even if they’re trying to keep things private. So what famous faces have hidden some pretty serious sicknesses behind their facade?
15. Selena Gomez – Lupus
In the past few months Selena Gomez has really been discussing her battle with lupus in a more public way, but according to Gomez, that’s more because she has to than because she wants to. Apparently Selena went through some serious denial when she was initially diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and just couldn’t accept the limitations that the illness might put on her. Her reaction after first being diagnosed was to push herself even harder, to basically pretend it wasn’t happening and just get through it. But at a certain point the lupus became impossible to ignore, and in retrospect Gomez says it was a mistake to push herself so hard instead of taking a break. But when things got more serious she finally did take a break, which caused a lot of public speculation about what might be going on with the child star. After suggestions that she might be dealing with some kind of drug or alcohol abuse problem, Gomez came out publicly with her diagnosis.
14. Charlie Sheen – HIV
Charlie Sheen has really taken the whole “wild child” stereotype to another level, and because of his fame and fortune it seems like he has managed to stretch it from his childhood to his entire life so far. So it’s usually not much of a shock to hear about him doing or saying anything particularly nutty, and to be totally honest this case is no exception. Sheen went to great lengths to conceal his HIV diagnosis from the public for a very long time; he said that he had spent upwards of ten million dollars in payoffs to people in order to keep his illness a secret, but once rumors started about a major star whose HIV diagnosis was about to be outed Charlie decided to just out himself. In an interview with Matt Lauer Sheen opened up about his life-changing diagnosis, but said that he had the illness under control with the help of anti-retroviral drugs.
13. Gigi Hadid – Hashimoto’s Disease
Gigi Hadid makes her living off of being young, healthy, and ridiculously hot, but the stunning supermodel has actually been coping with an illness for years. You might not be familiar with Hashimoto’s disease, but it’s actually a pretty common autoimmune disorder that is mostly manageable, but can sometimes be quite severe. The disease is caused when one’s own immune system starts attacking their thyroid gland, and it can lead to any thyroid-related problems like weight gain or depression. In Hadid’s case the disease actually caused her to lose weight, which at least won’t interfere with her modelling career. But the disease can be difficult to diagnose because its onset can be slow and the symptoms can just build over time, and while it’s an incurable disorder, hormone replacements can at least make it manageable. And Hadid isn’t the only celeb to suffer from the illness, as Gina Rodriguez and Victoria Justice are sufferers as well.
12. Lady Gaga – Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is kind of a mysterious disease, or actually, a mysterious syndrome. Doctors are still unclear as to what causes it and the symptoms can be pretty broad and generic, but it’s estimated that millions of people (especially women) suffer due to the syndrome. The illness has several different components, but it is generally characterized by chronic severe pain in the muscles and deep tissues. The pain is often accompanied by fatigue and emotional distress, as well as lethargy or trouble sleeping. It’s also fairly common for fibromyalgia to be triggered by an initial injury, which is the case for Lady Gaga. After breaking a hip and initially recovering from the break, the fibromyalgia began causing pain all over her body. Lady Gaga hadn’t discussed the illness much in public, but opened up about the difficulties of the disease and actually allowed the crew to film one of her episodes in her Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two.
11. Michael J. Fox – Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a brutal and terrifying illness, and sitcom star Michael J. Fox has probably been the most visible face and fiercest celebrity advocate for research into the disease and education for the public about the disease, so it’s surprising to realize that Fox actually kept his diagnosis a secret for seven years before ever discussing it publicly. The actor actually started showing signs of Parkinson’s in 1991, but wasn’t diagnosed with the disease until a year later, and initially he took the diagnosis hard. He managed to keep his illness a secret until the late 90s when he was starring on his hit show Spin City. In 1998 his symptoms became so severe that it began to interfere with his work, and after weeks of speculation as to what mystery illness Fox was coping with the actor decided to publicly announce it himself. Fox wound up leaving the show, but began dedicating much of his time and public profile to promoting Parkinson’s.
10. Cobie Smulders – Ovarian Cancer
How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders is only in her 30s now, which seems far too young to already have had an experience with cancer, but Smulders was actually diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 when she was just 25 years old. Understandably, Smulders didn’t suspect that her tiredness and abdominal pain could be something that serious, but was shocked to discover that her situation was in fact very serious. Cobie hit the ground running with her cancer treatment and lifestyle changes, taking on healthier eating habits and an exercise regime, acupuncturists, therapists, even crystal healers in her efforts to turn her health around (and of course multiple surgical interventions were a part of her treatment plan, too). Cobie made it through the experience with her health and body relatively intact, but didn’t actually discuss her cancer experience publicly until years later. She ultimately decided to come clean because she felt that her story might help other women going through similar things.
9. Halle Berry – Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with weight problems and overall poor health, which is understandable since type 2 diabetes became a bit of an epidemic alongside the American obesity epidemic. But anyone can be affected by the blood sugar disorder, which is perfectly demonstrated by the fact that the super fit and smoking hot Halle Berry suffers from the condition. Berry was actually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after she collapsed in her early 20s and expected to be taking insulin shots for the rest of her life. However, in 2007 Berry publicly announced that she had weaned herself off of insulin, which is physically impossible if you have type 1 diabetes. This led many to speculate that Halle may have had type 2 diabetes all along, but because the disease is so strongly associated with age, weight, and poor health her doctors may have ruled out the possibility when they shouldn’t have.
8. Pamela Anderson – Hepatitis C
Pam Anderson is obviously best known for her role as CJ Parker, the ultimate Baywatch babe and former wife of Motley Crue rocker Tommy Lee. Anderson certainly got a lot of attention for her on and off relationship with Lee, but one unexpected thing Pam also claims she got from Tommy is hepatitis C. Lee denies that he has ever had the disease (which affects the liver and can lead to such serious complications as cirrhosis or liver failure) but Anderson says that she contracted the illness from him after they shared a tattoo needle. About 80% of people who are infected with the virus have chronic issues with it, and Anderson said that when she was initially diagnosed her doctor told her she might be dead in 10 years. Obviously the doctors were wrong, and Anderson actually announced on Twitter that after nearly 20 years of dealing with the disease that she had finally been cured.
7. Bella Hadid – Lyme Disease
As far as the medical establishment knows, Lyme disease is primarily transmitted to humans through ticks, but it’s looking more and more like the illness can be transmitted through other ways that doctors and the medical community aren’t sure of yet. High fashion model Bella Hadid has been suffering from chronic Lyme disease for years, and strangely enough, her mother and brother also have chronic Lyme disease. It’s of course possible that they were just bitten by infected ticks, but seeing a cluster like that is pretty odd. One of the bigger issues with Lyme disease is that it’s a difficult disease to diagnose. It’s a relatively uncommon disease to catch so it’s often not included in lab tests, and the symptoms of the illness are strange and can seem unrelated, and they also seem to come and go. And Bella herself wasn’t the one to publicly discuss her diagnosis first; her mother brought it up at a Lyme disease benefit.
6. Jack Osbourne – Multiple Sclerosis
When Jack Osbourne was initially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis he was unsure of whether or not he wanted to go public with the disease. Osbourne was initially tipped off to the fact that something wasn’t quite right with him when he apparently went scuba diving and started having blurred vision after coming back up to the surface, but he was still shocked when his neurologist diagnosed him with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. But because of his own misconceptions about the disease as well as common misconceptions from the public, Jack decided to discuss his multiple sclerosis with the public in the hopes of clearing some things up and lending some hope to other young people suffering from the disease. While the disease is progressive it is also something that can be more manageable with the right treatment and lifestyle changes. Although everyone experiences MS differently it’s not necessarily the immediate death sentence that a lot of people think it is.
5. Sarah Hyland – Kidney Dysplasia
You certainly couldn’t tell by looking at her, but Modern Family starlet Sarah Hyland has been plagued by health issues ever since she was a little girl. As a child she was diagnosed with a multitude of illnesses, so many that her doctor told her parents that she would never be able to live a normal life, but her most serious diagnosis was probably kidney dysplasia. The unusual disease causes a baby’s kidneys to develop abnormally. It’s an issue that actually begins in utero and basically what happens is that cysts grow in places where healthy kidney tissue should normally be growing. If it only affects one kidney then children with kidney dysplasia can live and function pretty normally as well, but if not then they usually have to use dialysis treatments to keep healthy or get a kidney transplant. Hyland is one of the latter cases, but luckily her father was a kidney match for her and donated one of his kidneys to her when the actress was 21 years old.
4. Catherine Zeta Jones – Bipolar II Disorder
Dealing with an illness is tough stuff no matter who you are or what you’re going through, but sometimes the hardest illnesses to deal with aren’t necessarily physical. It’s unclear when exactly stunning actress Catherine Zeta Jones was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, but the actress has dealt with the illness privately for the most part, and with good reason. Mental illness has an unfair stigma in society, but Zeta Jones kept her experience with it private specifically because her biggest struggle with it coincided with her husband Michael Douglas’ public battle with cancer. During their family ordeal Zeta Jones decided to have a short stay at the hospital to help her cope with the mood swings, but other than that, she hasn’t really spoken publicly about the issue. Bipolar disorder can affect anyone at any time of their lives, and is most strongly characterized by rapid mood swings between depression and manic behavior.
3. Kim Kardashian – Psoriasis
Kim Kardashian has built her career on two major pillars: her willingness to let the entire world into almost every nook and cranny of her life and her ability to look nearly flawless while doing it. And given her normal preened to perfection look, it’s hard to imagine that she could be dealing with anything that could remotely affect her appearance. However after noticing what she thought was a rash on her legs Kim went to see a dermatologist, where she was diagnosed with psoriasis. The illness is an autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to reproduce faster than they should, and results in skin inflammation and irritation like red bumps and flakiness. Psoriasis is actually one of the most common autoimmune diseases around, but Kim was understandably concerned about diagnosis and how it might affect her business. Ultimately, she decided to share her struggle with the world, and even featured her condition on an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
2. Demi Lovato – Bipolar Disorder
Former child star Demi Lovato has not had an easy ride into adulthood. In addition to dealing with substance abuse problems, Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while she was seeking treatment for those substance abuse problems in a professional facility (and for those of you that are wondering, the difference between bipolar disorder and the bipolar II that Catherine Zeta Jones suffers from is the severity). Lovato initially thought her mood swings and manic behavior were a normal part of her personality (and presumably a side effect of her alcohol and drug abuse), but after her hospitalization and diagnosis she began to accept and deal with the problem. Demi initially tried to keep a lid on her problems and claimed that she had only been hospitalized for exhaustion, but eventually she decided to come clean in the hopes of helping others with her story. Lovato finally discussed her bipolar disorder in depth in her MTV documentary Stay Strong.
1. Sharon Stone – Brain Aneurysm
In one of the most terrifying instances of secret celebrity illnesses, we have Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone, who endured a stroke, brain aneurysm, and brain hemorrhage in 2001. After feeling ill for a few days Stone finally decided to take a trip to the emergency room and discovered that she was actually having a stroke, most likely as a result of her brain aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is a weakness in one of the blood vessel walls inside of your brain that can sometimes weaken to the point of bursting, hemorrhaging, or inducing a stroke, and oftentimes they can be fatal. Stone was lucky to make it to the hospital and to make it out alive, but the health scare was not without its consequences. Stone hemorrhaged for nine days, and when it was all over she had lost sensation in one of her legs, lost part of her vision, and could barely speak. It took years of physical therapy to recover, and she only recently started discussing the event in detail.
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!