healtheo360 Wellness Blog

Celebrities with Chronic Illness

Posted on May 24, 2013 2:40:45 PM by healtheo360

Chronic illness doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, even those who seem to have it all. When celebrities talk about their chronic conditions publicly, it helps to raise awareness and understanding about various health issues. Here is a list of celebrities living with chronic illness who  publicly discuss their health conditions and share their struggles with millions of others who also fight against their illnesses everyday.

Type 2 Diabetes

Celebrities with chronic illness - Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Ground-breaking, award-winning celebrity, Tom Hanks, has recently shared his diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes with the public. On The Late Show with David Letterman, Hanks spoke of his constant struggle with high blood pressure and blood sugar levels he suffered from since he was in his mid-thirties. In the interview with Letterman he said, "I went to the doctor and he said, 'You know those high blood sugar numbers you've been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you've graduated. You've got Type 2 diabetes, young man.' " His career may a factor in pushing his prognosis from pre-diabetic to Diabetes 2. Weight plays a significant role in the disease and throughout his career Hanks has gained and lost weight multiple times for roles.

Halle Berry

According to American Diabetes Association, 26 million Americans are living with diabetes. This Oscar-winning actress was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes since she was 19. "Diabetes caught me completely off guard. None of my family had suffered from the illness and although I was slightly overweight in school, I thought I was pretty healthy.” The actress is mostly maintaining a healthy lifestyle to fight off diabetes and its many potential complications.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Michael C. Hall

The “Dexter” star was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent surgery and treatments in 2010. “I feel fortunate to have been diagnosed with an eminently treatable and curable condition, and I thank my doctors and nurses for their expertise and care”. Michael is currently in remission.

Ovarian Cancer & Breast Cancer


celebrities with chronic illness

Kathy Bates

The actress was diagnosed with breast cancer in Septermber of 2012. She underwent a double mastectomy and related treatments. "Nobody else really knows what you're going through except another cancer patient.” Bates also battled ovarian cancer in 2003.

Colon Cancer & Pancreatic Cancer
celebrities with chronic illness - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Supreme Court justice was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Later, in February 2009, she underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. Her tumor was discovered at an early stage during a regular colon checkup.


Graves’ Disease

Missy Elliot

In 2008, the hip-hop singer was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. Her treatment included radiation as well as medications. "I feel great. Under my doctor’s supervision, I’ve been off medication for about a year and I’m completely managing the condition through diet and exercise.”


Congestive Heart Failure

Elizabeth Taylor

The legendary actress survived numerous health problem during her life. “I’ve been through it all, baby. I’m Mother Courage,” says Taylor. She survived pneumonia in 1990. She had brain tumor surgery in 1997. Sadly,  heart disease took her life away at the age of 79. The cause of death was congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood to other parts of the body.


Owen Wilson

The actor attempted suicide in 2007 and was hospitalized. It was later acknowledged that Wilson had been battling with depression. His lawyer confirmed that Wilson had been undergoing treatment for depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6 million Americans are diagnosed with depression each year.


Throat Cancer

Michael Douglas

The actor was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer in 2010. He contributed the cancer to stress, excessive smoking and drinking. Douglas underwent intense radiation and chemotherapy to treat his cancer.  "The tumor is at the base of his tongue and his doctor's prognosis is for a full recovery," said his press representative.


Bipolar II disorder

Catherine Zeta-Jones

The actress was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2011. She was under tremendous stress when her husband, Michael Douglas, was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is a common trigger for bipolar disorder. Bipolar II is characterized by longer depressive episodes compared to bipolar I, which is characterized by a combination of manic and depressive episodes. Catherine made the decision to check into a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar II disorder late in 2011.



Hugo Weaving

The 'Matrix' and 'Lord of the Rings' actor was diagnosed with Epilepsy when he was 13 years old and has been living with it since. 125,000 Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. Epilepsy causes seizures that affect mental and physical functions.

Heart Attack

celebrities with chronic conditions

Rosie O’Donell

Rosie O’Donell had a heart attack in August of 2012. One artery was 99% blocked. “My arms starting aching and my chest hurt. My son, Blake, said, 'Mommy you look very white.' I told him, 'I don't feel so good, honey.' " After she was released from the hospital, she started eating healthy and lost 12 lbs.

Living with chronic illness is difficult to go alone. It doesn't matter if your a celebrity living with chronic illness or a regular Jane or Joe like me. You can find helpful support and encouragement in online support groups as well as useful advice.

Sources: CDC, ADA, NIH, People, wikipedia, huffington post, abc, webMD

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