17 Celebrities You Might Not Have Known Were Chronically Ill — Making Them Even More Impressive

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

1.Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease in 1991 at age 29. His first symptom was a pinky twitch he developed while he was acting on the set of Doc Hollywood. He not only continued to act on various shows (Spin City, The Good Wife, The Michael J. Fox Show, etc.), but also founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The organization has raised over $1 billion for the disease since its launch in 2000.

Michael J. Fox talking to someone at an event
Noam Galai / Getty Images for The Michael J. Fox Foundation

2.George Clooney fell off a chair and split his head open while filming Syriana in 2005. After three weeks in the hospital, doctors finally concluded he had torn his dura — the outer layer around the spinal cord. He received a successful surgery on Christmas that same year, but still deals with chronic pain from the incident to this day. He says it affects him three times per week on average.

George Clooney smiling
Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

3.Alec Baldwin has had chronic Lyme disease for decades. His first bout of symptoms was his worst. He told People, "I really thought 'this is it, I’m not going to live.' I was alone, I wasn’t married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. 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.'" Alec and Hilaria constantly check their children for tick bites.

Alec Baldwin speaking at a gala
Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

4.Bella Hadid has also been candid about her life with Lyme disease. In a blog post, her mother Yolanda shared that Bella "had to give up her lifelong dream of having a professional riding career, and a shot at the Olympics, due to her severe symptoms and inability to ride. This was the biggest heartbreak of her life and an extremely sensitive subject for her." In 2015, Bella told the London Evening Standard that her Lyme disease is still "in all my joints and it goes up to my brain."

Bella wearing a wool sweater and leather overalls for a runway show

She told People in 2016 that, "When I'm at fashion week it's literally only work, and when I'm not working I'm sleeping - especially during fashion week. I don't go out that much, I eat dinner by myself in my hotel room and go to sleep."

Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

5.will.i.am spoke to Mirror in 2013 about his diagnosis of ADHD. He talked about how his work in the music industry has helped him get control over his symptoms. "One thing I learned about ADHD is that it’s hard to keep your attention and you can’t sit still, and you’re always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things," he said. "But those traits work well for me in studios and in meetings about creative ideas"

will.i.am on stage

"I've figured out a place for it," he said. "If you listen to the songs I write, they are the most ADHD songs ever. They have five hooks in one and it all happens in three minutes. I figured out a way of working with it."

Derek White / Getty Images for iHeartRadio

6.Selena Gomez opened up about her lupus diagnosis in 2015. This condition led to a kidney transplant in 2017. She was also diagnosed with bipolar in 2020. Selena told ELLE US that her desire to help others was what got her through her greatest struggles. Since her lupus diagnosis, she's recorded two albums — "Revival" in 2015 and "Rare" in 2020.

Selena Gomez wearing a black dress with puffed sleeves on the red carpet at an event
Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images for WarnerMedia

7.Lil Wayne had had epilepsy all throughout his career. After a publicized health scare he went through in 2013, where he had three seizures in a row, he told a radio station, "This isn't my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh seizure. I've had a bunch of seizures. Y'all just never hear about it."

Lil Wayne dancing on stage
Johnny Nunez / Getty Images

8.Bono has had glaucoma for nearly three decades. He said on The Graham Norton Show that he wears his sunglasses all the time because of the light sensitivity his condition causes.

Bono speaking on stage at an event
Barry Brecheisen / WireImage / Getty Images

9.Nick Jonas was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16. In 2015, he helped found the organization Beyond Type 1. According to its website, this organization "aims to change what it means to live with chronic illness."

Nick Jonas at an event
Robert Kamau / GC Images / Getty Images

10.Anthony Anderson has lived with type 2 diabetes for 20 years. In 2018 he told Everyday Health that he struggled to manage his condition at first, but finally got it under control after his father died of type 2 diabetes complications. He made a variety of lifestyle chances, like exercising more and cleaning up his diet. Anthony's diabetes diagnosis was even written into an episode of Black-ish as part of his “Get Real About Diabetes” disease awareness campaign.

Anthony Anderson on the red carpet for law and order SVU
Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

11.Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2011. In 2018 she tweeted, "I think the time has come I start a medication for psoriasis. I’ve never seen it like this before and I can’t even cover it at this point. It’s taken over my body." In one episode of KUWTK, Kim even goes to see the "Medical Medium" for insight on holistic approaches to treating her psoriasis.

Kim Kardashian heading to an SNL after party
Gotham / GC images / Getty Images

12.Sarah Hyland was born with kydney displasia — a condition where the kidneys don't develop as they typically would in the womb. She recently opened up about how she "doesn't remember" filming some episodes of Modern Family because she "was asleep." This was right before she was about to get a second kidney transplant from her brother, so she was very ill. Sarah has also spoken candidly about having endometriosis.

Sarah Hyland on a red carpet
Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

13.Pete Davidson was diagnosed with Crohn's disease around the age of 17 or 18. In 2016, he told the High Times that marijuana has been crucial for managing his stomach pain. “I wouldn’t be able to do SNL if I didn’t smoke weed," he said. "I wouldn’t be able to do anything really. Me performing not high has gone awful. It’s awful for me because I don’t feel well.”

Pete Davidson on Jimmy Fallon
Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

14.Lena Dunham has spoken in depth about her experience with endometriosis. In an essay she wrote for Vogue, she described the insurmountable pain she experienced from it. And in a blog post for The Lenny Letter, she recalled, "a few days of every Girls season, I would come into work with that telltale stomach pain, nausea, and inability to move a muscle."

Lena Dunham at a red carpet
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images,

15.Daisy Ridley also struggles with endometriosis. When she was cast as the lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she experienced a particularly bad flare up. She told ELLE Australia, "I was in my flat going nuts, and then my skin got really bad with the stress of it all, and I hadn't been well — I had holes in my gut wall and stuff — and we were trying to figure out what to do with that because I'd felt poorly." Daisy ended up having to move in with her sister, in a house a few streets away from their parents.

Daisy on a red carpet
Gareth Cattermole / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

16.Gina Rodriguez was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease at age 26. In 2018 she told SELF Magazine, "To the core of my being, I know what it’s like to feel like there is no way I can win this, so where do I even begin." After years of rebelling against her body, she finally began to put more care into her health routine, and found balance in her everyday life.

Gina Rodriguez on the red carpet
Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

17.And finally, Mariah Carey was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder in 2001, but didn't reveal it to the public until an interview with People in 2018. "Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," she said. "It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music."

Mariah Carey in a recording studio
Fox / FOX Image Collection via Getty Images