Famous People With Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease:

Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi is an infection caught from the bite of an infected tick. Lyme disease can cause a circular red rash around a tick bite and flu-like symptoms. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics from a GP. The sooner you start treatment, the better your chances of a full recovery. You can reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease by covering your skin when you’re outdoors, sticking to footpaths, and using insect repellent.

It is a black-legged tick that will attach to its host and suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has certain bloodborne infections, such as the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick may ingest the pathogen and become infected. If the tick later feeds on a human, that human can become infected.

Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that can damage a persons’ quality of life but also alienate them from their communities. Diagnosis is tricky, and the cost of missed or misdiagnosis compounds the detrimental effects of the disease itself.

If you have or suspect you have a tick-borne illness, you may or can offer comfort to someone going through the same struggle by learning the surprising stories of eighteen famous people who have been diagnosed with tick-borne diseases.

1. Avril Lavigne

This Canadian pop star’s Lyme Disease diagnosis caused her to retreat from the public eye for several years. Avril has become an advocate for the disease where she was quoted as saying she had been bedridden from the illness. Her songs from her album, Head Above Water, were inspired by her struggles with the illness.

Avril now has her own charity, The Avril Lavigne Foundation, and works with the Global Lyme Alliance and the LymeLight Foundation to raise awareness about Lyme.

2. Shania Twain

Canadian singer struck by tick-borne illness, Shania Twain has suffered lasting effects from her struggles with Lyme. One of her symptoms, dysphonia, has permanently damaged her singing voice. Singing, she says, now requires more intense warm-ups and effort than ever before.

3. Alec Baldwin

Hollywood A-List Actor says a tick bit him around the year 2000. For five years after that, he suffered devastating symptoms every summer, becoming bedridden and suffering high fevers and sweats.

During a 2011 interview with The New York Times, the “Saturday Night Live” actor mentioned that he had chronic Lyme disease.

Alec Baldwin didn’t mention his diagnosis again until 2017 when he spoke onstage at an event benefiting the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. It was then where Alec opened up about the loneliness and fear that can come with being diagnosed with a tick-borne illness. He was not married at the time of his first episode of the illness and symptoms got so bad, he felt very alone and was sure he would die from the illness.

4. Yolanda Hadid (and Her Kids)

Former model Yolanda Hadid starred on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, not many people knew she was suffering from debilitating Lyme symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, and pain.

Since the airing of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Yolanda spoke openly about the disease to help spread awareness. She’s is now an advocate for Lyme patients, calling the tick-borne disease an “invisible disability” that can harm patients’ mental health and alienate them from friends and loved ones. She’s talked about how she not only battled several doctors to finally get an accurate diagnosis, but also struggled to be understood by friends, co-stars, and even her ex-husband (David Foster).

Yolanda in December 2012, reported that she was having a port implanted in her arm to help treat what she has stated is chronic Lyme disease. In April 2013, she had the port removed. In January 2015, she revealed that, as a consequence of the illness that Hadid believed she has, she had “lost the ability to read, write, or even watch TV”.

If that weren’t enough, Yolanda’s children Anwar Hadid and Bella Hadid also have Lyme. Yolanda has been vocal about how her other daughter Gigi, is fortunate not to have the disease.

5. Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller another Hollywood A-Lister Actor provides a hopeful example of how early detection and antibiotic treatment can help manage symptoms. After a knee injury that coincided with excessive, inexplicable inflammation, he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease he believes he contracted in Nantucket.

Doctors were able to diagnose and treat Ben’s Lyme Disease, and he’s since reported being “symptom-free.” However, he acknowledges that Lyme “never leaves your body,” echoing concerns about chronic Lyme that the medical community is now recognizing exists.

6. Daryl Hall

Daryl Hall singer, of the pop duo Hall & Oates, acknowledges his life in the countryside for his and his family members’ tick-borne illnesses.

In 2005, the duo Hall and Oates canceled a tour, revealing that Daryl Hall had been diagnosed with Lyme disease.

In 2011, he opened up about his experiences, explaining how he contracted the disease and his journey to health.

Though he’s still performing music, symptoms from the tick-borne disease have affected his career and quality of life, causing him to cancel tours.

After years of suffering a host of disparate and confusing symptoms – including fevers and wild fluctuations in body temperature, new food allergies, tremors, aches, and stiffness – he was eventually diagnosed with “six or seven” different tick-borne illnesses. Now he has “roving symptoms” that come and go, including heart arrhythmia – a common problem for chronic Lyme sufferers.

Hall says the confusion and controversy around Lyme disease can lead infected individuals to suffer “on their own.”

7. Amy Tan

Celebrated author Amy Tan has been very vocal about her battle with undiagnosed Lyme Disease. After she “soldiered through” increasingly erratic and troubling symptoms like pain, numbness, and hearing sensitivity during a major book tour, she suffered through debilitating anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations, plus several drug regimens that left her exhausted.

Like many Lyme sufferers, Tan’s quest for diagnosis was debilitating as her battle with Lyme Disease itself. At one point, doctors found and removed a small brain tumor, but the symptoms persisted. She even had an ELISA – a common test for Lyme – come back negative.

Still struggling with symptoms that made her unable to even write, she finally got positive results on a Western Blot from IGeneX and was diagnosed with Lyme.

Tan now serves on the Honorary Board of Directors for the Lyme Disease Association.

8. Rebecca Wells

Rebecca Wells is an American author, actor, and playwright known for the Ya-Ya Sisterhood series. Like her friend and fellow author Amy Tan, Rebecca Wells’ illness struck just as she was ascending as a successful fiction writer.

Similar to Tan, she suffered through symptoms like dizzy spells, noise sensitivity, respiratory infections, numbness, and even multiple-chemical sensitivities for over a decade before being diagnosed. At one point she even had to be hooked up to an oxygen tank for two hours per day.

9. George W. Bush

The Washington Post reported that back in 2006, former President George W. Bush was quietly diagnosed with and treated for Lyme Disease. Another example of how early detection can lead to better chances of recovery, Bush is thought to have fully recovered.

10. Kelly Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter chronicled the effects of Lyme on her life in her 2016 memoir, detailing how she suffered through recurring sore throats, stomach pain, and even seizures for ten years before getting a clear diagnosis. This had given the disease time to advance to stage III neurological Lyme. Throughout her undiagnosed illness, Osbourne’s intense drug regimen caused a cycle of depression, anxiety, and treatment for those symptoms.

After her father’s Birthday Party, Kelly noticed and burned a tick off her body after spending time near reindeer. But her story proves that removing a tick is only the first step in preventing disease.

Lyme patients can take inspiration from Osbourne’s resilience and self-advocacy in the face of this poorly understood illness.

11. Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber, Canadian Pop Star made headlines in January 2020 when he revealed that he had been struggling with Lyme disease. The story resonated with many in the Lyme community because Bieber was sick for months before getting a proper diagnosis. Complications from Lyme as well as a case of mono exacerbated Bieber’s exhaustion and damaged his mental health, serving as a further reminder of the consequences of a missed diagnosis.

In January, the singer wrote on Instagram that it has been a “rough couple of years” battling the disease. 

Justin Bieber explained that, for a long time, people speculated that he was “on meth,”  but failed to realize that he’d actually recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease. He said that he’d also been struggling with “a serious case of chronic mono which affected my skin, brain function, energy, and overall health.

12. Amy Schumer

In September, Amy Schumer shared on Instagram that she has Lyme disease and “maybe had it for years.”

Seeing as this disease is the “great imitator” with a range of symptoms,  it’s possible she could’ve experienced Lyme symptoms for quite some time without realizing it. 

In an Instagram post, the comedian said she’s currently taking doxycycline, an oral antibiotic, to treat the condition and she also asked others for advice. 

13. Ally Hilfiger

Ally Hilfiger battled the disease for decades and chronicled her journey in a memoir.

The former “Rich Girls” star went misdiagnosed for a long time after being bit by a tick at 7 years old in 1992.

In her book “Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me,” Hilfiger chronicles her battle with the invisible illness and the all-too-visible symptoms that followed.

In 2016, she told Health magazine, “I remember getting bit by a tick and my parents sent it off to the labs. And we got inconclusive tests back.”

14. Debbie Gibson

Deborah Ann Gibson is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer, and actress. Gibson released her debut album Out of the Blue in 1987, which spawned several international hits, later being certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

In 2014, Debbie Gibson revealed she’d been privately battling the illness.

Debbie Gibson took to her blog in April 2014 to give an update on her health, revealing that she’d begun experiencing symptoms in early 2013.

She said she first felt anxiety and sensitivity to certain foods.

Then, she said she began feeling unique pain and muscle fatigue she’d never had before. She added, “I got tested for everything under the sun, though it did not occur to me, or my West Coast doctors, to test for Lyme.

15. Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Jamie-Lynn Sigler is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Meadow Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler battled Lyme disease before learning she also suffered from multiple sclerosis.

At the age of 19 years old and starring on HBO’s hit “The Sopranos,” she learned she had Lyme disease.

Shortly after, in 2016, she told People magazine, “I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) when I was 20 years old. It was a shock, it was surprising.”

“I had been diagnosed with Lyme disease the year before, so to get the diagnosis was confusing, and also strange because I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel that anything was wrong.”

She’d taken antibiotics, a standard course of treatment for early-stage Lyme, “and things had started to go away,” she shared.

Sigler now advocates on behalf of those with chronic illnesses.

16. Thalía Mottola

Ariadna Thalía Sodi Miranda Mottola, known as Thalía, is a Mexican singer and actress. Born in Mexico City, she is widely considered one of the most successful and influential Mexican artists

Thalía Mottola began feeling ill during her first pregnancy in 2007 and became unable to care for her newborn daughter.

In her 2011 memoir “Growing Stronger,” she explained that doctors tried to convince her she was suffering from postpartum depression, writing, “I continued to feel like I had been run over by a truck that had dragged me for a thousand miles, along with a steamroller that had crushed every last bone in my body. I literally thought I was dying.”

When she found the energy to research online, she started seeing Lyme specialists, eventually undergoing two years of “heavy treatments.” 

17. Kris Kristofferson

Kristoffer Kristofferson is a retired Hollywood American actor, musician, and songwriter.

Kris Kristofferson experienced several misdiagnoses before being treated for Lyme.

His wife revealed in 2016 in a Rolling Stone interview that the music legend had been diagnosed with Lyme disease just shy of his 80th birthday.

The magazine then wrote that Kris’s wife believed Kris had been bitten by a tick while filming the 2006 movie “Disappearances” in Vermont.

“He was taking all these medications for things he doesn’t have, and they all have side effects,” she shared, talking about medications he was taking for depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

After three weeks of Lyme disease treatment, Lisa noted that “All of a sudden he was back to his normal self,” adding that he is not cured and still struggles some days yet “some days he’s perfectly normal and it’s easy to forget that he is even battling anything.”

18. Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna is an American singer, musician, artist, feminist activist, pioneer of the feminist punk riot grrrl movement, and punk zine writer.

Kathleen Hanna battled Lyme disease for over a decade before being properly diagnosed.

Kathleen Hanna took time off from her band, Le Tigre, in 2005, citing personal health issues. However, at that time she was unaware she was struggling with Lyme Disease. She was only diagnosed in late 2010.

She experienced debilitating symptoms over the course of several years that made her unable to move or speak at times and she began to heal after two years of “intensive therapy,” according to The New York Times.

After multiple misdiagnoses — from multiple sclerosis to lupus and panic attacks — she saw a 2008 documentary called “Under Our Skin” about the unspoken Lyme epidemic and realized that a tick bite she got in 2005 could still be causing her health problems, even though she’d been treated with a standard course of antibiotics.

In 2013, Hanna returned to the public eye and in 2016 she formed a new band, Julie Ruin.

The Importance of Testing

While the bewildering symptoms of tick-borne illness can be very isolating, you don’t have to suffer alone. If you have Lyme symptoms – especially if there’s a chance you’ve been bitten by a tick – it’s important to get accurate testing and medical advice.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks. It’s usually easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people.

The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by an infected tick but usually appears within 1 to 4 weeks. It can last for several weeks.

The rash can have a darker or lighter area in the center and might gradually spread. It’s not usually hot or itchy.

The rash may be flat, or slightly raised, and look pink, red, or purple when it appears on white skin. It can be harder to see the rash on brown and black skin and it may look like a bruise.

A round, red area, surrounded by a red, ring-shape rash, from Lyme disease. Shown on white skin.

Further Reading and Credits: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651

https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/lyme-disease

https://www.bds.org.uk/information-advice/out-about/lyme-disease-ticks/

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/24/631814695/ticks-and-lyme-disease-3-factors-determine-risk-of-infection?t=1636467911717

Useful Links:

https://lyme.org/

https://www.lymedisease.org/

LymeDiseaseAction.org.uk

LymeDiseaseAssociation.org

LymeDiseaseUk.com

ALDF.com

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