If you have a rare disease, chances are, sometimes you feel all alone in your experience. When you look around, there are people all over the world fighting similar battles. Here are 8 celebrities who have spoken publicly about their struggle with rare diseases– how many can you name?
Venus Williams: Sjogren’s Syndrome
Venus Williams has Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition which causes severely dry eyes, a dry mouth, chronic fatigue, and aching joints. The condition is tough, but did stop Venus from becoming one of the top athletes in the world. She’s been considered one of the all-time greatest players in women’s tennis since she emerged on the world scene in 2000, and she’s still breaking Wimbledon records in 2017. Learn more about Sjögren’s syndrome here.
Kim Kardashian: Psoriasis
Many people with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease which causes itchy, red patches of skin, report feeling self-conscious about how the condition affects their appearance. Clearly there’s no need: Kim Kardashian, who is essentially famous for being beautiful, also shares this condition. She dishes about it in a video on her reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Watch her talk about it here. Learn more about psoriasis here.
Avril Lavigne: Lyme Disease
Avril Lavigne: pop-punk queen of the early 2000s, eternal queen of the pre-teen angst in my heart. The “Sk8r Boi” singer opened up to People in 2015 about her struggle with Lyme disease, which kept her in bed for five months. Lyme disease is transmitted through bacteria from a tic bite, and if it isn’t caught early, can cause extensive damage. To learn more about Lyme disease, click here.
Michael J. Fox: Parkinson’s Disease
Alright, this one is probably not a surprise, but you just can’t complete the list without him. The Canadian-American actor, who played Marty McFly in Back to the Future, is one of the most famous faces of this neurological disease, which causes progressive tremors. He even founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation, aggressively advocating for a cure. Although his condition took a physical toll, he’s still acting. To learn more about Parkinson’s Disease, click here.
Angelina Jolie: BRCA-Mutated Gene
Angelina Jolie has been one of the top names in the film industry for decades, once reportedly the highest paid actress. She’s also known for being a humanitarian, mother of six children, and one half of Brangelina– arguably the most famous couple in Hollywood. Angelina Jolie actually wrote an article in the New York Times about her widely-publicized mastectomy and oophorectomy. She underwent these surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries before the cancer occurred, since she had tested positive for BRCA mutations. She had already lost many women in her family to BRCA-mutated breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Her choice to publicize her decision made a real-world impact. In what Time Magazine called “The Angelina Effect” many women decided to take initiative and get tested to understand their own cancer risks. To read more about BRCA-mutated breast cancer, click here. To read Jolie’s op-ed in the New York Times, click here.
George Clooney: Bell’s Palsy
George Clooney, the acclaimed actor, told CNN he battled Bell’s palsy for 9 months in his freshman year of high school. Bell’s palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the 7th cranial nerve, causing paralysis on one side of the face. It interferes with tear and saliva production, and sensory experiences. Clooney fully recovered, but you can still detect a trace of it in his grin. To learn more about Clooney’s story, click here. To read about Bell’s palsy, click here.
Michael Phelps: Marfan Syndrome
Michael Phelps was only 15 when he came into the Olympic spotlight. Not only is he known as one of the worlds greatest swimmers, but he’s the most decorated Olympian athlete ever. According to Fox Sports If Michael Phelps was a country, he would rank 32nd out of the 205 countries on the all-time medal count. He is also thought to have Marfan syndrome. Marfan syndrome is caused by a problem in the gene that makes connective tissue. It’s symptoms include a tall, thin build, with long arms and legs, near-sightedness, heart murmurs, and flat feet. It can range from mild to life-threatening. Phelp’s wrote in his book that he exhibited some of the hypermobility symptoms, and gets his heart checked out by doctors at Johns Hopkins once a year. To learn more about Marfan syndrome, click here.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler: Multiple Sclerosis
Jamie-Lynn Sigler was 20 years old and a rising star on The Sopranos when she started exhibiting symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative neurological disease which attacks the nerves brain and body. Sigler wants to use her fame for good, and speaks out about the issue. She uses the hashtag #ReimagineMySelf on twitter to share her experience, and show that MS doesn’t have to stop you from living a happy life and obtaining your dreams. To learn more about MS, click here.
Audrey Hepburn: Pseudomyxoma adenocarcinoma
Audrey Hepburn, the classic movie star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, passed away after battling Pseudomyxoma adenocarcinoma, an incredibly rare form of cancer. Her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, carries on her legacy and vocally advocates for National Organization of Rare Diseases (NORD), to draw attention to the cause. Read more about Audrey Hepburn’s rare cancer here.