Living with, treating and understanding the effects of a rare and/or chronic illness is a serious undertaking for a person and their loved ones. Regardless of the prognosis, a rare illness affects every part of a person’s life and it takes time, energy and emotional labor to process it all and begin to come to terms with your “new normal.”
And these conditions are increasingly common: In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control reported that half of all adults in America live with one chronic illness while 1 in 4 adults has two or more. Common among those include conditions like heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. And being rich, famous or successful doesn’t give you immunity to these chronic or rare conditions. When it comes to those affected by rare and/or chronic illnesses, the category includes celebrities we know and love — like Lady Gaga, Yolanda Hadid, Venus Williams, Kim Kardashian and Michael J. Fox who live with chronic pain, Lyme disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, psoriasis and Parkinson’s, respectively.
And, whether it’s to help their fans understand their experiences, to help others in their communities who have the same illnesses or educate folks, a number of these celebs have even used their influence and platforms to share their stories of living with these conditions — which, along with being a powerful, personal and vulnerable thing to share, can do wonders for dispelling stigma and making it easier for the non-famous peers who experience these illnesses to be understood, appreciated and supported by the general public.
Keep clicking to see which celebs are currently dealing with (and talking about) a rare and/or chronic illness.
A version of this story was published August 2018.