Updated 19 March 2018

7 celebs with rare diseases

While their lives might seem perfect on the pages of glossy magazines, some celebrities are battling rare diseases.

A rare disease is any disease that affects a small percentage of a population.

While you might have not heard of these lesser known diseases, these stars are using their voices to raise awareness and lessen the stigma for those fighting these conditions. 

Here are seven celebs with rare diseases:

Missy Elliot

The Get Ur Freak On rapper disappeared from the music scene in 2008 as a result of her struggle with Graves Disease

Graves Disease is an autoimmune disease that causes an over activity of the thyroid gland and results in various symptoms such as muscle weakness, weight loss and eye disease.

Elliot was diagnosed with the disease after experiencing hand tremors, in an interview with People magazine, she revealed her struggles saying that she could not “even use a pen.” Elliot has, with the help of radiation combined with medication, made her return to the stage and hopes to shed more light on the disease.

Shannen Doherty

Charmed actress Shannen Doherty has had her fair share of health problems. While you might know about her battle with cancer, she has not been very open about her one with Crohn's Disease.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease resulting in the inflammation of the digestive and gastrointestinal tract. The most common symptoms include diarrhoea, weight loss and abdominal pain. However, the eyes and joints can also be affected.  

Venus Williams

In 2011, after winning her first round at Wimbledon, tennis star Venus Williams retired, shortly after receiving the diagnosis of Sjögrens Syndrome.

Sjögrens Syndrome is an autoimmune disease which results in the damaging of healthy parts of the body. It commonly affects the part of the body that produce fluids like tears and saliva although in some cases, nerves and joints as well.

By drastically changing her diet to a raw vegan one, she was able to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with the disease. Speaking to Forks Over Knives, Williams stated that “chronic health conditions can be demoralizing and limiting. However, you have to see the glass as half full and always focus on what you can accomplish and not what you can’t.”

Atticus Shaffer

You might know Shaffer as Brick Heck, from the popular TV show, The Middle. Shaffer was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare genetic defect that prevents the body from making strong and healthy bones.

This results in bones that are so fragile, a person living with osteogenesis imperfecta can break hundreds of bones in their body within their lifetime.

Shaffer opened up in an interview with Parade about living with his condition, “I just have to be cautious. But my message to people with or without a condition is the fact that you can still do anything you set your mind to. You just have to do it in a slightly different way than other people.”

Toni Braxton

Singer Toni Braxton has been extremely vocal about living with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the tissue in the organs it affects. The most common of symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, swollen glands, seizures and nausea.

In an interview with Huffington Post, Braxton opened up about her struggle, "Some days I can't balance it all. I just have to lay in bed."

Lady Gaga

lady gaga

The eccentric singer was forced to cancel a tour in 2017 as a result of her Synovitis.

Synovitis is often confused with fibromyalgia as their symptoms are similar. Both include swollen joints, joint pain, fatigue and sensitivity to pain. However, with synovitis, pain only occurs when the joint is moved with the pain caused by fibromyalgia is constant. Fatigue is also a symptom of fibromyalgia that is not associated with synovitis.

Gaga reportedly could not walk as a result of the disease and took some time off her grueling tour to regain her strength.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar spoke out on her body dysmorphic disorder when asked in a Health magazine interview about her insecurities.  

Body dysmorphic disorder results in constant negative thoughts about one’s real or imagined flaws, causing the individual to see themself as ugly or disfigured. It often interferes with everyday life and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Gellar revealed that while she avoids mirrors, she was making strides in coping with the disorder, “I just have to remember that I’m human and I’m a mom. Being a parent changes the vanity at least a little bit. It has to. Your priorities are different.” 

Image credit: AFP