21 Celebrities Who Bravely Went Public with Their Health Battles

Stars want to share lessons — and hope

01 of 21

FKA TWIGS

The Fashion Awards 2017 - London
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The singer revealed on Instagram in May 2018 that she underwent laparoscopic surgery in December to have six fibroid tumors removed from her uterus. She compared the tumors’ sizes to two apples, three kiwis and a few strawberries — “a fruit bowl of pain everyday,” she wrote — and added that the weight and size of the growths was proportional to being six months pregnant.

“I tried to be brave but it was excruciating at times and to be honest I started to doubt if my body would ever feel the same again,” she shared. “I had surgery in December and I was so scared, despite lots of love from friends and family I felt really alone and my confidence as a woman was knocked.”

The artist then shared a message to others dealing with similar health scares. "I know that a lot of women suffer from fibroid tumours and I just wanted to say after my experience that you are amazing warriors and that you are not alone. you can get through this,” she said, signing off on her post, “and with this I let go of the pain… love always twigs.”

02 of 21

CYNTHIA BAILEY

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The Real Housewives of Atlanta star revealed to PEOPLE that she is recovering after undergoing surgery for a lipoma tumor that turned out to be benign.

“I noticed a slight raised lump on my back near my left shoulder blade about two months ago. At first I thought I had been bitten by something, or it was just back fat. A couple of weeks later, I noticed that it was still there and seemed to be growing,” she said in a statement.

Bailey set up surgery to remove the lipoma, and doctors were able to remove it, but with some difficulty. Thankfully, the tumor was not cancerous. “Surgery went well, however it went much longer than expected because the tumor was embedded very deeply in my back and partially under a muscle,” she explained. “It was also larger than expected. In the end, thankfully all the lipoma was removed successfully, and it is benign.”

03 of 21

WENDY WILLIAMS

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Courtesy Wendy Williams Show

Williams announced on a February 2018 episode of her eponymous talk show that she was recently diagnosed with Graves', an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, in addition to thyroid issues of which she was previously aware. "Graves' disease squeezes the muscles behind the eyeballs," she explained to her audience, adding that it has made her eyeballs twitch.

After canceling an appointment with her endocrinologist scheduled for December in favor of a business meeting, Williams finally saw the doctor in February. "My doctor has prescribed — are you ready? — as of today, three weeks of vacation,” she announced, sharing that she'll be taking a three-week break from hosting her show.

The TV personality joked: “I’ll be back in two. I’m not an heiress — who is going to pay my bills? Are you serious? I’m just saying, I come from working class.”

Williams also had an important message to women to put their health first. "What I want to say to women, more than men, is stop putting everyone first because if we’re not good, they’re not good,” she said.

04 of 21

GATEN MATARAZZO

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Before Matarazzo landed the role of a lifetime as the loveable Dustin in Stranger Things, he struggled to get hired because of his rare bone disorder. The 15-year-old has cleidocranial dysplasia or CCD, which affects his bone and teeth growth, and he has undergone two surgeries and four extractions for the condition so far.

"It's one of the reasons why I haven't been getting roles, because of my lisp, and the teeth situation, and my height," Matarazzo explains on an episode of The Doctors. "That affected pretty much everything. I would go three times a week for auditions all the time and get constant 'no.' "

05 of 21

SOLANGE KNOWLES

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After announcing she wouldn't be performing at Afropunk Fest in South Africa on New Year's Eve to ring in 2018, Solange revealed the reason behind her decision: she has been battling an autonomic disorder for the past five months. "[It’s] been a journey that hasn't been easy on me," she wrote on Instagram. "Sometimes I feel cool, and other times not so cool at all."

Knowles explained that her diagnosis was "complicated" and that she is "still learning so much myself." She wrote: "But right now, my doctors are not clearing me for such an extended lengthy flight, and doing a rigorous show right after."

While the singer did not share what type of autonomic disorder she was diagnosed with, people afflicted with it usually have trouble regulating their heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and body temperature as the disorder occurs in the nervous system, according to the Mayo Clinic.

06 of 21

LADY GAGA

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In her new documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, Gaga gives fans an intimate look at the chronic pain she has long dealt with. And in a recent Twitter post, the singer confirmed that she suffers from fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes widespread muscle pain and tenderness.

"In our documentary the #chronicillness #chronicpain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia," she wrote. "I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it."

07 of 21

TAMRA JUDGE

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Tamra Judge/Instagram

The Real Housewives of Orange County star discovered melanoma on her left butt cheek, and is now urging her Instagram followers to get their skin checked. "I work out hard for this Booty. I was planning on competing again in November at 50 years old, but I’m not sure that’s happening now. It looks like God has a different plan for me,” Judge wrote. "I'm showing you this picture because this is what melanoma looks like. I don’t want sympathy, I want you to save YOUR ass and get your skin checked. This was just a small black flat freckle … I had no idea!"

The mom of four previously had three spots that turned out to be basil cell skin cancer, and one squamous cell skin cancer, all of which can be treated with early detection and by quickly removing the skin cells.

In January 2018, the Real Housewives of Orange County star showed off her bandages from a skin biopsy she had done on her breast, as well as a closeup of the procedure and her stitches in an Instagram post. "First my butt now my boob," Judge captioned the photos, referencing how she had to have surgery in October after discovering melanoma on the left cheek of her bottom.

08 of 21

MARIA MENOUNOS

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Robin Marchant/Getty Images

In July 2017, the E! News host told PEOPLE her devastating news: as her mom is battling brain cancer, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor of her own. "I'd been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches," she told PEOPLE. "My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter." After a successful surgery, which removed 99.9 percent of the tumor, she opened up to PEOPLE about the experience. "We're caretakers as women and we put ourselves last," she said. "I tell people all the time if your car is making a weird noise, you take it to the mechanic. How come when our body is making weird noises, we ignore it? I'm so lucky that I went to the doctor and raised the alarm."

09 of 21

MONICA

Monica Brown
Dog Vision Pictures

In June, Monica opened up for the first time about her diagnosis of endometriosis, and the "almost 8 hour" successful surgery she underwent to remove cysts, fibroids and a hernia. "My reason for sharing is because we, as women, are built to be warriors and we will ignore something that seems so simple that can be so complex," she told PEOPLE exclusively. "Your uterine health is very important. I spoke up about it so people out there who are going through the same thing know that they're not alone."

10 of 21

CATHERINE ZETA-JONES

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Catherine Zeta-Jones. Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

When Zeta-Jones received a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder – a disease that affects millions – she knew she had to come forward if it could help people. "This is a disorder that affects millions of people and I am one of them," she told PEOPLE in 2011. "If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it. There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help."

11 of 21

SARAH HYLAND

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The Modern Family star has previously talked about her battle with kidney dysplasia, which required a kidney transplant in 2012 — and most recently posted a series of notes on Twitter to explain that she's been dealing with health issues over the last 12 months. "It's never fun to look in the mirror and see your hard work at the gym fade away or have your legs be the size of one's arms," the actress, who has been dealing with online bullying for her weight, wrote of not being able to workout to maintain her muscles. "But I know that when I get clearance I will be able to get back to the STRONG, lean, and fabulous self I know I can be."

12 of 21

NORAH O'DONNELL

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After going two years without a routine skin check, the CBS morning anchor made an appointment with her dermatologist, only to be diagnosed with melanoma a few weeks later. "The really good news is that they caught it early and they treat it very aggressively," O'Donnell told PEOPLE. "They make a big cut to make sure there's nothing else around it and not becoming invasive." Now cancer-free, O'Donnell hopes to inspire others to schedule skin checks.

"I think getting skin checks isn't at the top of everybody's list. We delay our preventive care," she said, adding that melanoma is on the rise. "Preventative care is so important in catching this stuff early. I have to go back every four months now. I just went back and they took off two more things, including a spot underneath the scar. They both came back totally benign, but I'm under close surveillance."

13 of 21

GIGI HADID

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Daniel Torok/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

While balancing her successful career and busy schedule, the supermodel has been coping with an illness. "My metabolism actually changed like crazy this year. I have Hashimoto's disease. It's a thyroid disease," Hadid revealed at Reebok's #PerfectNever event in New York City. "It's now been two years since taking the medication for it, so for the [Victoria's Secret] show I didn't want to lose any more weight."

14 of 21

AUSTIN CARLILE

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After a 7-year battle with Marfan syndrome, Of Mice & Men's lead vocalist announced his departure from the band due to life-threatening health complications. In his message, Carlile said he's suffered four spinal tears, which left him in "violent pain every time I'd perform" and unable to execute his trademark vocal screams — a crucial element of the metalcore titans' sound since the band's formation in 2009.

Despite being hampered by Marfan's, Carlile still sees a future in music. "I am still able to sing, and I'm hungry for what is next to come even though I have no idea what that may be. I feel God placed me at this crossroads for a reason, and with the closing of one door, another will open."

15 of 21

SHANNEN DOHERTY

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Instagram

Since revealing her breast cancer diagnosis, the Beverly Hills, 90210 actress remained candid about her journey on social media as well as during interviews — documenting the moment she shaved her head, and speaking about her battle on shows like Chelsea and Entertainment Tonight. In April, the actress announced she is currently in remission. "As every single one of my fellow cancer family knows, the next five years is crucial," she wrote on Instagram. "Reoccurrences happen all the time. Many of you have shared that very story with me. So with a heart that is certainly lighter, I wait."

16 of 21

CRYSTAL HEFNER

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Source: Crystal Hefner/Instagram

The 30-year-old wife of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner underwent surgery in June to remove her 8-year-old breast implants after claiming they caused her aches, bladder pain, brain fog and fatigue. The model and deejay took to her Facebook page to explain her health status, which she said was deeply affected due to the implants that were "slowly poisoning her." "Instantly, I noticed my neck and shoulder pain was gone and I could breathe much better," Hefner wrote following the implant removal procedure. "I know I won't feel 100 percent overnight. My implants took 8 years to make me this sick, so I know it will take time to feel better."

17 of 21

YOLANDA HADID

YOLANDA HADID
Courtesy Yolanda Foster

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was first diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, a type of bacterial infection, in 2012, and has since been confronted with an uphill battle, as there's no known cure for the illness. Despite her diagnosis, Hadid has remained optimistic, regularly posting updates about her condition on social media as well as on her blog. "I wasted the first year trying to get diagnosed and spent the next two trying to find a cure," Hadid, undergoing Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in this shot, previously shared. "I have gone from the conventional long-term antibiotics to about every holistic protocol there is to offer."

18 of 21

GINA RODRIGUEZ

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Anthony Behar/AP

After posing for a Cosmo for Latinas photo shoot, the Jane the Virgin star took it upon herself to share one of the images on Instagram, where she also revealed her battle with Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune disease that may result in weight gain, fatigue and muscle pain. "My struggle with health and weight and body acceptance in this industry has been a loving, painful, growing, exposing, vulnerable and incredible journey," she wrote on Instagram. "And to come to a place where I love the skin I am in and it isn't defined by anyone's expectations or limitations is beyond freeing."

19 of 21

NICK CANNON

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The America's Got Talent host is the life of the party, both onstage and on Instagram – where he shared a picture of his hospitalization in 2015, following his diagnosis of lupus nephritis (a.k.a. lupus kidney disease). "Don't worry, temporary pit stop … Sometimes I can be a little too bullheaded and stubborn," he wrote. "I be wanting to grind nonstop but the engine can't run on fumes."

20 of 21

LENA DUNHAM

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The Girls creator skipped the press tour for her show's most recent season after doctors told the writer-actress it was time for Dunham – who battles endometriosis, a disorder that causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside the uterus – to give her body a break. "I am currently going through a rough patch with the illness and my body (along with my amazing doctors) let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it's time to rest," she wrote on Instagram. "So many women with this disease literally don't have the option of time off and I won't take it for granted."

21 of 21

DAISY RIDLEY

DAISY RIDLEY
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The Star Wars: The Force Awakens star openly spoke about her battle with endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome on Instagram, where she was candid about how both diagnoses have affected her confidence and skin. "I can safely say feeling so self conscious has left my confidence in tatters," the actress wrote, captioning a pic of herself wearing a facial mask. "I hate wearing make up but I currently don't want to leave the house without it on." The star, who said progress is being made thanks to her dermatologist, went on to state the importance of going to the doctor and getting tested. "From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours [are] working in tip top condition, and take help if it's needed."

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