Most of us live under the impression that the celebrities we love (and sometimes hate) have picture perfect lives. However, reality is never perfect. It may come as a surprise to you to see these famous stars reveal exactly what they’ve been enduring privately alongside public fame and fortune. Here are 15 celebrities who have been battling life-endangering medical conditions their entire lives.
15. Sarah Hyland
The ‘Modern Family’ star has been struggling with kidney dysplasia ever since she was born. The condition is characterized by the abnormal development of one or both kidneys and the formation of fluid-filled cystic tissue in place of healthy kidney tissue. In 2012, she underwent a kidney transplant with her own father as the donor. She has actively participated in The George Lopez Foundation, which sends children with kidney diseases to overnight camp with medical needs readily available. Hyland recently skipped the 2017 SAG awards due to health reasons.
She credits her success to the support of her family. “I was born with so many health issues that doctors told my mother I would never have a normal life. And she said, ‘You’re right, she won’t—but it won’t be because of her health,'” Hyland tells Seventeen. “When my mother told me that story, it resonated with me: if I can’t have an ordinary life, I might as well have an extraordinary one. If you set your mind to something, you’ll achieve it.”
14. Michael J. Fox
Famous for his role in the ‘Back To The Future’ movies, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1991, when he was 30 years old. Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder that causes symptoms such as tremors, stiffness and loss of balance. The doctor’s prognosis was bleak – only 10 more years to live. After undergoing a brain surgery to control the symptoms, Fox has defied expectations and is alive and well to this day. He gets by with his own personal “mix of drugs” and stays positive-minded. Fox also founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation, one of the leading Parkinson’s research institutions in the USA. Till this date, the Foundation has raised over $700 million in its efforts to find a cure for the disabling disease. Fox was recently nominated for an Emmy for his role in ‘The Good Wife’ and is currently trying to ensure that the changes in the Affordable Care Act due to the current government do not negatively affect Medicare patients with Parkinson’s.
13. Nick Cannon
Actor and musician Nick Cannon was diagnosed with lupus in 2012, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system cannot distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissues and consequently attacks the healthy tissue. He was hospitalized in 2012 for kidney failure and life-endangering blood clots. The busy performer had to take time off from work and concentrate on a good diet and getting plenty of rest. Since then, he has a become a strong advocate for lupus awareness and has worked with Youtube, The Lupus Foundation and other initiatives. Cannon was hospitalized again in 2016 due to the disease but has returned to the studio and has started working again.
12. Lil Wayne
The rapper first revealed that he had epilepsy in 2013, after he was hospitalized for suffering several seizures. According to MTV, Wayne claimed that his heart nearly stopped and he almost died during this incident. Epilepsy is a disorder that manifests in the form of seizures, due to abnormal nerve cell activity in the brain. It can be controlled through medications and dietary changes. However, Wayne has not shown any indication that he will follow any recommended areas of treatment. He has been open about his addiction to codeine, a strong opioid which, when ingested regularly, will only aggravate his condition. Wayne was hospitalized again in 2016.
11. Lady Gaga
The ‘Born This Way’ singer was diagnosed with borderline lupus in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2013 that painful symptoms of synovitis appeared, due to a hip injury. The singer recently revealed that she has also been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. She shared with fans her personal treatment for the pains and aches – an infrared sauna. She has earned the respect of many for being so open about living with an autoimmune disease and shattering the glamourous, untouchable image surrounding her.
10. Selena Gomez
Being a high-profile celebrity, Gomez was hesitant to reveal that she had lupus for two years from the diagnosis. She had previously checked into a rehab facility in 2014 and also underwent chemotherapy. “I could’ve had a stroke,” she revealed in 2015, underlining the importance of the break from her work activities. She has now become a major voice for lupus awareness and has set up The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research with the Keck School of Medicine, to which she herself made a hefty donation. She took another break from her world tour in 2016. In 2017, she had a kidney transplant, the donor being her best friend and actress Francia Raisa.
The TLC frontwoman has been through a lot. She revealed that she had sickle cell anaemia in 1996. This is a disorder that causes the deformation of red blood cells and consequently leads to pain, fatigue and shortage of the oxygen being provided to the cells of the body. “When I’m touring I get sick a lot and have to go to the hospital,” she tells MTV. “All I can do is keep praying and stay positive.”
In 2006, she suffered from severe headaches and blurry vision and went for a MRI scan. The scan revealed that she had a giant non-cancerous brain tumour which was removed surgically. Afterwards, she had to learn how to walk and talk again. Fortunately, she made a full recovery and recorded a final TLC album. She now serves a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.
8. Toni Braxton
The ‘Unbreak My Heart’ singer revealed that she had pericarditis in 2008. It is the swelling of the thin pericardium membrane surrounding the heart, characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain in the left shoulder and neck. In 2010, she was diagnosed with lupus. “Pretty much when you have lupus, you feel like you have the flu every day. But some days you get through it,” Braxton tells Huffington Post Live. She is now an active spokesperson for both of her conditions – works for the American Heart Association and is a member of the Board of Directors for Lupus LA. In 2016 she was hospitalized for overworking herself.
7. Nick Jonas
The former member of the Jonas Brothers and ‘Jealous’ singer was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was only 13 years old. He was on tour with his brothers at the time and felt constantly irritable, thirsty and sluggish. He also would rush to the bathroom frequently and lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. When he got his blood tests done, his glucose levels were above 800 and he was rushed to the hospital immediately.
Jonas, now 23, has gotten used to life as a Type 1 diabetic. He uses a specialised insulin pump and recently has adopted the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor. He has also opened a non-profit organization, Beyond Type 1, to raise awareness in the community about the difference between Type 1 and 2 and to create a “safety net” for Type 1 diabetics. Jonas credits the attention and care of his family and Type 1 friends to his ability to live a normal life. He also carries his medical equipment with him wherever he goes, whether it be for work or recreation, and wishes to remove the so-called stigma surrounding diabetic patients.
6. Jack Osborne
The reality TV star lost the vision in his right eye in 2012 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective layer surrounding the nerves. Osborne claims that he had already experienced symptoms 18 months prior, with his legs going numb. He maintains a positive outlook in life and maintains his condition by taking a daily injection and a good diet. Osborne has also collaborated with Teva Neuroscience to create the web series ‘You Don’t Know Jack About MS’ to create awareness. “Life is amazing, and it’s a gift,” he writes in his blog ‘What MS Has Taught Me’. “Just because you have MS, doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of it.”
5. Bret Michaels
Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, suffered from a brain haemorrhage in 2010. While he was being treated at a hospital, he was also diagnosed with a hole in his heart. He delayed the required surgery to fix the condition for his concert tour but suffered a warning stroke in 2011, prompted by the hole. He underwent a successful surgery later on. Michaels has battled with diabetes throughout his life and has also had an appendectomy.
The legendary singer has had myalgic encephalomyelitis since 1991. Also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, it is characterized with prolonged fatigue, disturbed sleep and pain. It worsens with exertion. Recently, in 2017, Cher cancelled a series of concerts due to being hospitalized for “a common flu”, but inside sources have revealed that she may be battling a much more serious ailment. Despite these rumours, she is all set to complete another tour and a movie.
3. Alec Baldwin
Baldwin, an experienced actor and impersonator of President Trump on SNL, revealed casually that he had Lyme disease in 2011. It took him several years to finally open up about his condition, in front of an audience at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation LymeAid benefit in 2017. Baldwin said that he believed that he had Lyme disease before he had even been diagnosed with it. He was bitten by a tick 17 years ago, got a shot and then got bitten again. Every summer for five years, he suffered from flu-like symptoms. “I was lying in bed saying, ‘I’m going to die of Lyme disease,’ in my bed and ‘I hope someone finds me and I’m not here for too long.’”, he shares. The benefit concert and dinner raised $800,000, all of which went to the research for Lyme disease.
2. Morgan Freeman
The 79-year-old and familiar voice of the entertainment industry has had his share of health problems. After fracturing several bones in a serious car accident in 2008, he underwent surgery to repair nerve damage. He has now lost all feeling in his left hand and has to wear a compression glove at all times. Freeman has also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which causes severe muscle pain and tenderness. In 2012, he said to Esquire Magazine, “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.”
1. Frankie Muniz
The ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ star has suffered 9 concussions since the age of 7. He left Hollywood to become a professional car racer in 2006 and has broken 38 bones since then. After a serious car accident in 2009, he quit racing and became a drummer in a band. He lives with a strange condition in which he has suffered many mini-strokes that vary in length and frequency. Neurologists have been unable to pinpoint why this is happening to him. Recently, Muniz revealed that he has severe memory loss, possibly because of his past concussions. He deals with it by writing down everything he had done in a journal and handles the strokes by resting and letting them pass.