Celebrities Who've Talked About Battling Lyme Disease

These stars got candid about their battle with the tick-borne disease

01 of 15

Ryan Sutter

Ryan Sutter
Ryan Sutter. Ryan Sutter/instagram

After battling a "mystery" illness for months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sutter announced in May 2021 that he had Lyme disease, worsened by mold exposure.

Sutter explained that after going through a litany of testing and blood work over the last year, doctors determined that his body is susceptible to taking in mold toxins, which he is frequently exposed to as a firefighter.

"It seems to be that what happened is that my immune system was weakened through exposures to toxins and especially to mold," he said on wife Trista Sutter's podcast, Better Etc. "There are other people in the fire academy that probably had the same exposures who aren't dealing with these exposures because their genetics are stronger, they're able to get rid of the toxins easier."

He also tested positive for COVID-19 and Epstein-Barr virus, a common illness that causes mononucleosis.

"It's been hard," Trista said. "It's a really difficult thing to see the person you love most in the world struggling. And he's a big, strong guy, and oof - to see him get emotional and feel hopeless, in that all I could really do is advocate for him, so that's what I did."

In June 2022, the couple sat down with PEOPLE for an update on Ryan's health — and had good news.

"For so long, I was only thinking about how to survive the day," said Ryan. "But I feel like my life is coming back. And that's been really encouraging."

02 of 15

Kelley Flanagan

Kelley Flanagan
Kelley Flanagan. Kelley Flanagan/ instagram

Bachelor alumna Flanagan shared "some not so good news" with her Instagram followers in August 2021 — she tested positive for Lyme disease.

The former Bachelor contestant posted a video on Instagram where she tearfully explained that she's been struggling with the news about her health.

"I'm not having the best day today," Flanagan said, before sharing that she tested positive for Lyme disease. The reality star said that she suspected that something was off because her body "is so much more sensitive and super reactive to a bunch of things."

"Two of my brothers have Lyme disease and a lot of their symptoms sounded really similar to me," she said. "Cause I've just always had something off since I was young, and like, really really had to take care of myself."

Flanagan said that she thinks "this is something that I've had maybe for a while," and she's partially relieved to have a diagnosis.

"It's a blessing and a curse because now I can target why I feel off so often but also means several different lifestyle changes and extensive research on how to help/hopefully cure this!" she wrote in the caption. "I know this is going to be tough for me seeing what my brothers have gone through mentally and physically but I'm going to put so much of my time and energy into figuring this out and combatting this."

03 of 15

Debbie Gibson

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Craig Sjodin via Getty

While Gibson finally achieved her dream of competing on season 25 of Dancing with the Stars, the singer admitted her Lyme Disease made the experience a challenging one. "I can't be cavalier with my body," she told PEOPLE. "I can't just push myself without thinking what happens next. [Lyme Disease] can affect my stamina."

But there's a silver lining: after fighting the disease for four years, Gibson knows her physical strengths and weaknesses. "I've always been in tune with my body," she said. "But the last few years have helped me learn where I can push my limits. I'm going to choose to think of that as an advantage!"

In a candid chat with PEOPLE in August 2021, she elaborated on her symptoms and treatment, saying she's "learned to expect the unexpected."

"I know I can get through it," she said of tougher days. "And every time I get through it, I'm reminded of how strong we all are."

04 of 15

Kelly Dodd & Rick Leventhal

Kelly Dodd and Rick Leventhal
Rick Leventhal and Kelly Dodd. Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

In June 2021, the Real Housewives of Orange County star revealed the couple's diagnosis on her Instagram Story.

"So, we tested positive for Lyme disease," Dodd said, while filming Leventhal sitting across the table from her.

She went on to say that this is her first bout with the disease. "I've never had contact with a tick in my life," she said.

Leventhal, however, told Dodd he's had Lyme disease twice in the past.

He then took an antibiotic pill, adding that the medicine cured his other bouts with Lyme and stressing that he hopes it will work again.

Dodd didn't say where she and Leventhal suspected they contracted Lyme. A rep for the reality star did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

05 of 15

Amy Schumer

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Amy Schumer. Alexander Tamargo/Getty

The actress and comedian opened up about her diagnosis in a September 2020 Instagram post featuring a throwback photo with her "first ever fishing pole."

"Anyone get LYME this summer? I got it and I'm on doxycycline," she wrote. "I have maybe had it for years. Any advice? Can you have a glass of wine or 2 on it?"

"I know to stay out of the sun. I'm also taking these herbs from cape cod called lyme-2," Schumer continued, asking followers to comment with their own experience with the tick-borne disease. "I also want to say that I feel good and am excited to get rid of it."

06 of 15

Ramona Singer

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Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Real Housewives of New York City star was diagnosed with Lyme disease in March 2020. The diagnosis came after Singer started feeling sick around Valentine's Day, according to E! News.

The reality star believes that she contracted the tick-borne illness while in the Hamptons. She was diagnosed early and told E! that she is "very lucky and very blessed."

07 of 15

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber
Broadimage/Shutterstock

The superstar revealed in January 2020 that a July 2019 photo of him that sparked Internet speculation about his health (above) was taken at the height of his battle with Lyme.

"While a lot of people kept saying Justin Bieber looks like s-, on meth etc. they failed to realize I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease," he wrote on Instagram. "It's been a rough couple years but getting the right treatment that will help treat this so far incurable disease and I will be back and better than ever."

08 of 15

Avril Lavigne

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage

In her 2015 PEOPLE cover story, the singer revealed she had been battling Lyme disease for a year. "I had no idea a bug bite could do this," said Lavigne, who believes she was bit by a tick in 2014. "I was bedridden for five months."

In a 2019 PEOPLE story, Lavigne - whose foundation is working with various Lyme disease organizations to raise money and awareness for the cause - said she was feeling well.

"It gave me a purpose," she added of her journey, "and made me find myself all over again."

"When you go through something like that, you realize how fulfilling simple things are - things I could do anymore, like being able to get up in the morning and go to the kitchen and grab a cup of coffee," she added. "It taught me patience; it taught me being more present. That was a beautiful lesson."

09 of 15

Shania Twain

shania-twain-1
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

As a legend in the country music world, Twain kept vocal struggles under the radar so as to not worry her fans. Her singing voice - which she's had to regain and retune from the damaging effects of dysphonia, the result of Lyme disease - is improving. "I was very scared for a little while that I wouldn't sing again, ever," she told PEOPLE. "I went through that moment, but I found a way. I found a way to do it."

Using her voice to sing now, she says, requires lengthy warmups and physical therapy that's "very, very difficult."

10 of 15

Alec Baldwin

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Baldwin took the stage as Master of Ceremonies at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation's 2017 gala, LymeAid, where he got candid about his struggle with the illness. "I really thought this is it, I'm not going to live," he said of his condition. "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.' "

11 of 15

Yolanda Hadid

Yolanda Hadid
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

The former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star has spoken out about her diagnosis onstage, on social media and in her 2017 book, Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease.

"This disease has brought me and many others to our knees, often wishing to die of utter hopelessness and exhaustion. Like I always say, you don't get it until you get it," she said at the Global Lyme Alliance Gala in 2016. "It's hard for people to understand the invisible disability that owns our life especially behind the beautiful face that shines so bright on the covers of magazines."

12 of 15

Anwar & Bella Hadid

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Yolanda Hadid's kids, models Anwar and Bella, also suffer from the "invisible illness." In her speech at the 2016 Global Lyme Alliance, Bella explained how her passion for horseback riding - and many aspects of her life - have been hindered because of her Lyme battle.

"It was my dream of my life and what I did every single day until I just stopped and realized I didn't have the brain power to ride horses anymore, so that was the end of that," Bella explained. "I know what it feels like to not want to get out of bed from bone pains and exhaustion and days on end of not wanting to socialize or be around people because the anxiety and brain fog just isn't worth it. After years of this, you begin to get used to living with the sickness, instead of getting cured and moving on with your life."

13 of 15

Ben Stiller

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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

The actor was first diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2010 - he suspects he contracted the illness on a trip to Nantucket, Massachusetts. "I'm symptom-free now," Stiller told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, "but Lyme doesn't ever leave your system. It's a really tough thing."

14 of 15

Kelly Osbourne

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In 2004, the star attended dad Ozzy's surprise 56th birthday party, which featured a reindeer sanctuary in the family's backyard. During the event, Kelly was bitten by a tick, which would go on to suffer from an array of symptoms, including a sore throat and stomach pains. "I've learned to advocate for myself when it comes to my health, and I trust my intuition," she wrote in her new memoir, There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass Bitch. "If I think something is wrong, I refuse to let anyone dismiss it. And sadly, I stay the f--- away from reindeer."

15 of 15

Ally Hilfiger

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"I was convinced that bugs were crawling in my body. I could feel them eating at my organs, my stomach and especially my brain," Hilfiger wrote in her new book, Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me, speaking of first being diagnosed with Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick in 1992 at 7 years old.

"I wasn't me anymore. I was a weakly projected image of myself on a wall, crying out for someone to help me and figure out what was wrong."

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