Celebrities are not immune to health problems and the challenges of healthy living. In fact, some of them battle with serious, life threatening conditions to maintain popular ratings, huge followership and relationships. Although, the news of a serious medical condition generates mixed feelings, many celebrities have overcome several challenges and are strong advocates of policies that improve the lives of millions of others with similar health conditions. These celebrities courageously cope with ill-health, raise awareness and help millions of others to understand and cope with serious medical problems.
Let’s consider 7 celebrities living with serious medical conditions that affect hundreds of millions worldwide.
Magic Johnson- HIV
Magic Johnson, a Basketball legend was one of the first celebrities to openly share his positive HIV status with the public. He discovered he had the virus during a routine pre-season HIV screen in 1991. According to PBS, his reaction to the news of his HIV status was ‘Oh man, I am going to die. I think it’s over’. Against the odds, he is still alive 25 years later. Magic Johnson has remained a strong advocate for persons living with HIV/AIDS, promoting prevention strategies and improving access to treatment. Other famous persons have publicly disclosed their HIV status. For example, actor Charlie Sheen recently revealed he is HIV positive. He described it as a ‘turning point in one’s life’.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) attacks the body’s immune system, making an individual vulnerable to several life threatening infections. It kills about 1.2million persons yearly. Many persons living with HIV/AIDS need to take medications daily.
Toni Braxton- Autoimmune disorder
In 2008, Toni Braxton best known for her song ‘Unbreak my heart’ collapsed and had to be hospitalized on account of Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. The Grammy award winner told Huffpost that finding a work-life balance became more difficult with the onset of Lupus. In fact, she is sometimes forced to spend the day in bed on account of flu-like symptoms.
What is Lupus? It is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body, ironically attacks its own cells, destroying healthy tissue and organs. Lupus usually occurs in females, between 30-40 years of age. Persons affected may have many complications, including skin rash, mouth ulcers, joint pains and abnormalities in the kidney, blood or brain. Unfortunately, there is no cure for lupus. Many persons need drugs daily to manage the symptoms.
In 2013, Tom Hanks, an award winning actor who featured in huge budget films such as ‘Forest Gump’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ announced he had type II diabetes, a serious medical condition. In diabetes, blood sugar levels are elevated. Although, type II diabetes often begins in adulthood, it may occur earlier. It is possible to prevent and manage diabetes with medications and the right lifestyle choices.
Catherine Zeta-Jones – Bipolar disorder
This award winning actress is one of the few celebrities that have been open about mental illness. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has been living with it ever since. According to a lifestyle magazine, she had ‘amazing highs and lows’ during episodes of the illness. That is why her ‘goal is to be consistently in the middle’ . Persons with bipolar disorder usually experience alternating periods of elation and depression. Bipolar disorder commonly affects an individual’s mood, interests and activities. Nevertheless, an individual can become free of symptoms with appropriate treatment.
Lil Wayne, a popular rapper, recently acknowledged he had epilepsy. During a radio show, he said he recently had ‘three seizures in a row’ which affected his breathing and heart rates. ‘I could have died’ Lil Wayne revealed. Persons with epilepsy have a tendency to experience convulsions. Seizures usually occur suddenly and may leave the individual unconscious or disoriented for minutes or hours. In view of this, many persons living with epilepsy endure shame, guilt and emotional problems. Unfortunately, the cause is often unknown and persons with these conditions need medications regularly. Furthermore it is also helpful to identify triggers and give attention to your mental and physical fitness.
J.K Rowling- Depression
J.K Rowling is the renowned author of Harry Porter series which made her one of the richest women on the planet. According to an interview with the Guardian, she hit ‘rock bottom’ and had to be in therapy in 2007. This happened after her first marriage broke down. According to a news article, she said her life ‘was characterized by a numbness, a coldness and an inability to believe you will feel happy again. All the color drained out of life.” At that point, she felt everything could go wrong in her life. This was the first of depressive episodes she has battled with in the past few years.
While struggling with depression, she published 7 Harry Potter novels, sold about 450million copies and made more than a billion dollars. Additionally, she regularly reaches out to persons coping with depression and suicidal thoughts.
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