12 Celebrities Who Have Struggled With Lyme Disease

Published on July 28, 2015. Updated September 22, 2015

Lyme disease is nothing new, but the tick-induced illness has been in the news lately as celebrities have been suffering from the debilitating symptoms both privately and publicly. It has also raised concern on a general level as the once rare disease seems to be spreading at faster and faster rates. The symptoms of the disease are terrible and debilitating but, worst of all, it seems it is also hard to diagnose and many suffer for years without knowing the cause. Avril Lavigne may be the most known for having the disease but many a celebrity has been infected, here are 12 celebrities who have (or have had) Lyme disease.

12. Jamie Lynn Sigler

In 2000, Jamie Lynn Sigler, the former Sopranos star, became ill while filming the indie film Campfire. She first experienced tingling in her feet which escalated to paralysis from the waist down. Luckily for Sigler, the Lyme disease infection was caught early and she was able to treat it with antibiotics. Despite this, she has said, “It was such a life-altering experience… I realized it could all be taken away in a moment. It’s hard to explain, when you sit there and can’t move anything…”

s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

11. Kathleen Hanna

Punk singer Kathleen Hanna has been a long-time activist for feminism and women’s right; however, her focus shifted when she began to advocate for greater awareness and better tests for Lyme disease after she contracted the illness herself. Hanna was unfortunately diagnosed five years after it is believed that she first became sick and suffered through the various symptoms with no answers. She eventually had to leave her band Le Tigre and stop touring in order to focus on her treatment. She spoke about the disease and her struggles in the documentary The Punk Singer and gives fans a glimpse at what she has been through with the disease. Keep fighting, Kathleen!

©IFC Films/courtesy Everett Collection

10. Amy Tan

Amy Tan, author of “The Joy Luck Club,” was another celebrity who had trouble having her disease diagnosed. She has written about how she suffered for years with pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, hypersensitivity to sound and smells, blood sugar instability and cognitive impairment. “I could not read a paragraph and recall what it said,” she once wrote. “I wrote in circles, unable to tie two thoughts together, never mind the plot of a novel.” It took Tan four years, 11 doctors, and $50,000 in medical bills before discovering what was wrong. “Ten years have passed since I was diagnosed, yet little has changed in the way medical schools, H.M.O.’s, private practitioners and insurance companies view the disease. It is still frequently misdiagnosed and patients with chronic suffering remain overlooked.” Her support of others suffering from the disease goes beyond words. She has founded the LymeAid 4 Kids organization, which pays for medical coverage for diagnosis and treatment for kids with Lyme disease.

(AP File Photo/Joe Tabacca)

9. Parker Posey

Actress Parker Posey has become an advocate of alternative treatments for Lyme disease after being diagnosed with the illness in 2009. When she received the standard antibiotic treatment, it failed to rid her of all of the symptoms. She even participated in a documentary called Rethinking Cancer, which profiled five cancer patients and Parker as a Lyme disease patient who had all apparently seen success with their alternative treatments.

Photo by Picture Perfect/REX Shutterstock

8. Christy Turlington

Famous Calvin Klein model Christy Turlington discovered that she had been infected with Lyme disease in 2007. She was able to be diagnosed early and received treatment right away, which helped her successfully rid her body of the disease. Since that time, she has apparently had no further issues and hasn’t publicly mentioned the incident in recent years.

Photo by Picture Perfect/REX

7. Jennifer Capriati

Jennifer Capriati made her mark as a sports star, becoming an International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Grand Slam winner. But in 2013 she revealed on Twitter that she was suffering from Lyme disease. She said that it’s believed that she had the disease for quite a while before it was recognized and diagnosed. There is even speculation that it may have been responsible for tennis-related injuries and emotional struggles (most notably a drug overdose and charges of stalking her ex-boyfriend). “It’s been a year since I’ve known but too exhausted to address. i couldn’t see another dr or id scream. i think Lyme makes u feel #overwhelmed,” she tweeted.

( Photo by gbinuya/Everett Collection)

6. Yolanda Foster

Yolanda Foster is used to being very public with all areas of her life and that includes her battle with Lyme disease. After being diagnosed three years ago, Yolanda has blogged about her experience, as well as posted pictures on her social media accounts of her receiving treatments. Like many others, she initially had trouble even pinning down what was wrong with her. “I wasted the first year trying to get diagnosed and spent the next two trying to find a cure,” she wrote on her blog. “I have gone from the conventional long-term antibiotics to about every holistic protocol there is to offer. Unfortunately, I was only able to get to about a 60 percent recovery until I relapsed in early December and have not been able to find my way back.” But she’s not giving up. “I am going to find my way out of this maze and find a cure for not only myself but for all my fellow Lymies #NoteToSelf Minutes turn into hours – hours turn into days-days turn into weeks-weeks turn into months and my months have turned into 3 years”. She’s even become a support for fellow Lyme disease sufferer Avril Lavigne who is friends with the reality star (more on Avril later).

Photo by REX

5. Ben Stiller

In 2010, Ben Stiller was suffering from a knee injury that wouldn’t quite heal up and was gradually becoming more painful. The cause was tentatively attributed to Lyme disease and the actor received treatments, which successfully rid him of any further symptoms.

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

4. Richard Gere

Richard Gere is another actor who is lucky enough to have caught the disease early and was treated successfully. In 2000, he was forced to postpone his work on the movie Autumn in New York co-starring Winona Ryder when he became ill. “This is one scary disease. I felt as though every ounce of strength had gone from my body… Just turning my head to see the time on the clock was a major operation. I felt as if my life was going in slow motion,” he said of the illness.

Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com

3. Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin is a little more private about his illness, but he reportedly has chronic Lyme disease. He hasn’t shared how he contracted the disease or what treatments, if any, he receives but he told The New York Times in 2011 that at “the same time of year, I get really tired.”

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

2. Ashley Olsen

Despite her unwavering popularity, Ashley Olsen has been quietly pulling out of the public eye since 2012 and many attribute it to her struggle with Lyme disease. Reports say that her condition is not good and is in fact getting worse. “She’s had to take a step back from her business. She used to be in the office all the time, but lately she’s often just not well, so she rests a lot at home. She’s really having a difficult time. […] She’s really struggling, and it comes out in anger — she’s at the point where she’s having a hard time dealing. She just seems all-around cranky. Between her pain and her exhaustion…”

Gregorio T. Binuya/Everett Collection

1. Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne is currently the most well-known victim of Lyme disease, recently revealing that she was bedridden for five months. After being diagnosed with a severe case of the illness, Lavigne said that there “were definitely times I couldn’t shower for a full week because I could barely stand. It felt like having all your life sucked out of you.” She then said, “I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t move… I thought I was dying.” Hopefully her public struggle will help others diagnose and overcome their own illnesses, Lyme disease or otherwise.

Photo by KCR/REX
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