Celebrities You Didn't Know Had Lyme Disease

Lyme disease may seem innocent enough at first, especially because it comes from the bite of a tiny tick. But unfortunately, Lyme disease is a serious, chronic illness that can leave people in physical pain for the rest of their lives. According to the CDC, some Lyme-related symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash known as erythema migrans.

Lyme disease is often known as an invisible illness because although someone may seem fine on the outside, they could potentially be suffering from their symptoms on the inside. This includes many celebrities who also suffer from Lyme disease. For most celebrities with Lyme, it is important to share their story in order to help others. Many of them are vulnerable with their fans, and some have even started their own foundations for research and awareness. Here are the celebrities you didn't know had Lyme disease, as well as a look into their journeys to finding health and healing. 

Avril Lavigne

The Canadian-born princess of skate punk has been a powerful force in the music industry throughout her whole career, but it may come as a surprise to people that she's been dealing with major health concerns for years. In spring 2015, Lavigne contracted a severe case of Lyme disease that, according to People magazine, left her confined to her bed for almost a half-year.

This journey with Lyme hasn't been an easy one for Lavigne, but the punk singer shared with People that it's actually changed her life in some very positive ways. "Sometimes it takes instances like this to put things in perspective. So in a way, I am grateful for all of this," said Lavigne. One of the ways Lyme has changed her life is by forcing Lavigne to take a look at what she eats. "[My diet is] sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, all organic. I juice three times a day," she told People. "I do yoga, meditate and try to swim or walk every day." Because Lavigne understands firsthand how difficult and all-consuming Lyme disease can be, she decided to start the Avril Lavigne Foundation to help bring awareness and more research to this illness.

Amy Schumer

In September 2020, comedian Amy Schumer revealed her Lyme disease diagnosis to her fans on Instagram. The comedy star paired an old childhood photo of herself with a Schumer-like caption that starts off, "My first ever fishing pole. Anyone get LYME this summer?" According to her post, Schumer believes she may have had this disease for years without realizing it or getting an official diagnosis. Because of her new arrival to this discovery, Schumer wanted to reach out to fans for help. "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," wrote Schumer.

She also mentioned that she'd been prescribed doxycycline, although she is still wanting to learn more about her options. The comedian was so eager for advice that she even provided a way for fans to reach her. "Please comment or text me on my number in my bio," she wrote. At the end of the day, she wants her fans to know that she's hopeful. Schumer ended her post, writing, "I also want to say that I feel good and am excited to get rid of it."

Bella Hadid

To some, Bella Hadid may be a new face. But others know Hadid as the up-and-coming fashion icon and younger sister to Victoria's Secret model, Gigi Hadid. Although Bella has her future ahead of her, it hasn't been an easy road since finding out she has Lyme disease. It's hard to know for certain how Bella contracted the disease, but it's thought to be from horseback riding.

Bella first started to feel the symptoms during her junior year of high school. "I stopped driving because I kept crashing, because my brain just stopped working," she told the Evening Standard. Lyme took a toll on her not only physically but emotionally as well. "It was when I first got sick. It was a dark time," recalled Bella. "I couldn't ride. I was just too sick. And I had to sell my horse because I couldn't take care of it."

Bella knows this is a life-long journey, so she's trying to find long-lasting solutions. She told the publication that she avoids painkillers because she doesn't want to get addicted, but has been trying some alternative medicines to alleviate the pain.

Shania Twain

Shania Twain has been a top-performing artist for decades. But what many of her fans never realized is that even while she was working hard to bring her amazing music into the world, she was simultaneously managing Lyme disease. Twain told E! News, "Lyme disease does affect your life for sure. It's such a silent evil thing." Having Lyme has caused a great deal of pain and exhaustion for Twain, but she's never let that stop her from performing and writing music. "It's more work for me now vocally because of the Lyme disease effect on the nerves in my larynges so it's like an hour and a half of physical exercise," she explained.

Twain also told the National Post about the importance of catching Lyme early, saying there's a "very short window to catch it and then treat it." Thankfully, Twain sought treatment right away. "In my case I was lucky that I saw a tick fall off me," she said.

Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson is a legendary country songwriter, actor, and all-around music legend. What you may not know is that he's been grappling with memory loss due to his Lyme disease. But Kristofferson didn't always know that it was Lyme disease affecting his health and memory. He was told for quite some time by doctors that he was experiencing Alzheimer's or dementia-related symptoms (via Rolling Stone).

Finally, Kristofferson found out he actually had Lyme disease, which became a viable explanation for his symptoms. Lisa Kristofferson, Kris's wife, told Rolling Stone that once he stopped taking Alzheimer's medication and focused on treatments related to Lyme, he started to feel so much better. "All of a sudden he was back," said Lisa.

With all of Kristofferson's health struggles and ups and downs with his memory, he has remained grateful for the life he has. "I really have no anxiety about controlling my own life," Kristofferson told the magazine. "Somehow I just slipped into it and it's worked. It's not up to me — or you. I feel very lucky that [life]'s lasted so long because I've done so many things that could have knocked me out of it."

Amy Tan

Amy Tan is a world-renowned American author whose most famous for her novel "The Joy Luck Club," as well as a handful of other best-selling books and short stories. The successful author has been managing Lyme disease since 1999.

Tan wrote for Pro Health that Lyme disease was not something on her radar when symptoms first began to pop up. "I passed off my early symptoms as stress and too many airplane rides with little sleep. I had an accumulating array of discomforts–a stiff neck, insomnia, a constant headache, and a bad back followed by a frozen shoulder," she explained. "I was often tired and jittery, but that, I reasoned, was the consequence of an active and exciting life with too much coffee as fuel."

Tan struggled with severe anxiety and depression, as well as low blood sugar, and doctors weren't sure what could be the cause. She had MRIs and CT scans done, and they all came back showing normal results. Tan's frustration grew, as did her health problems, and she was desperate to find answers. Finally, after seeing many different doctors, she tested positive for Lyme disease. Tan wants people to know that Lyme disease is no joke, and she wants those who are living with the illness to get the help they need. "Lyme disease is more prevalent than most people think. It is more difficult to diagnose than most doctors think. It requires ongoing treatment in many cases," wrote Tan.

Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller is an example of someone who with Lyme disease who hasn't experienced as many symptoms. Stiller briefly talked with The Hollywood Reporter about his disease in 2011, but he hasn't been very vocal about it since. "I got it in Nantucket, Mass., a couple of years ago," said Stiller. According to Stiller, he was diagnosed with Lyme after going to the doctor for unusual knee swelling. Thankfully, Stiller caught it early. Stiller confirmed to the publication, "I'm symptom-free now, but Lyme doesn't ever leave your system. It's a really tough thing."

This wasn't the only time Stiller was in the spotlight for talking about an illness. He also told Hollywood Reporter that back in 1999 he'd made a joke to GQ that he was "bipolar." He quickly realized that it might not have been a great joke to make, but it stuck. "I definitely regret saying it because it's not true. The context it was said in was joking and the writer intentionally put it out there as a real thing," said Stiller.

Alec Baldwin

One of the first times Alec Baldwin talked about his journey with Lyme disease he was in front of 350 people at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation LymeAid benefit. Because of his own personal experience with this disease, he felt it was important to share his story. According to People magazine, which covered the event, Baldwin contracted Lyme in 2000 when he was bitten by a tick. Years later, he was bitten again by another tick.

For a period of time, the actor thought he might not even make it. "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.'" Things got better over time, however, and Baldwin and his wife settled down in a beautiful farmhouse in East Hampton with their children. He is now aware that he doesn't want his kids to have to worry about contracting this disease, especially with all the time they spend outdoors.

"I want my kids to grow up riding horses and bikes and enjoying themselves every day and not have to spend every day with us going over them with a magnifying glass to make sure they don't have any ticks on their body or their dogs," said Baldwin, "but that is part of the lifestyle of where I live."

Ally Hilfiger

Ally Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger's daughter, has known Lyme disease almost her whole life. According to an interview she did with Health in March 2021, Hilfiger contracted the disease when she was bit by a tick at the age of 7, but she was wrongly diagnosed for almost 10 years. "I saw many different doctors and I heard a lot of different things, one of them was fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, growing pains, rheumatoid arthritis," said Hilfiger. "A lot of different symptoms and a lot of different diagnoses. A lengthy laundry list!"

Her frustration grew, especially because as she was receiving all of these false diagnoses, her symptoms worsened. "Reading became a challenge. Light sensitivity. But the neurological, joint pain, nausea were probably the most aggravating," said Hilfiger. But finally, Hilfiger tested positive for Lyme disease, and she was able to find some long-awaited answers. She told Health, "It kind of felt like I won the lottery. Which is so interesting! I finally felt validated for everything that my body was telling me."

Thankfully, Hilfiger now lives almost symptom-free. She has good and bad days, but she's able to get out of bed and live her life. And after all of this, she wants her daughter to know what it means to care for oneself. "I learned self love. That's what I want my daughter to know. You don't have to be a victim and you can be a fearless warrior and survivor."

Ramona Singer

Ramona Singer is best known for her spot on "Real Housewives of New York City." And although Singer lives in NYC full time, she spends much of the year in the Hamptons enjoying the outdoors, which is where the reality star believes she contracted Lyme. In early 2020, Singer shared her new diagnosis with E! News and her fans. She had been experiencing symptoms like fever and congestion, so she had a full blood panel ordered. It was then that she was informed she had Lyme and was prescribed an antibiotic.

With Lyme disease, it is extremely helpful if the diagnosis occurs shortly after contraction. Thankfully for Singer, she was diagnosed early. As she told E!, "We caught it early and I'm very lucky and very blessed." Now that Singer has her diagnosis, and especially because she spends a lot of time in the Hamptons, she will continue to get tested for Lyme every year. "You must get tested once a year, especially if you're in an area where there are deer," said Singer.

Yolanda Hadid

Like her daughter Bella Hadid and her son Anwar, "Real Housewives" star Yolanda Hadid has also been dealing with Lyme disease for years. Hadid talked about her experience with Lyme with ABC News. "This is such an invisible disability, where you look beautiful on the outside yet you're dying on the inside," said Hadid.

This is probably why fans never would have suspected she was suffering from this at all, even though she was experiencing symptoms during the entire filming of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, these symptoms became so severe that Hadid even contemplated taking her own life at one point. She opened up to ABC and said "I think in that moment I was so desperate, and in so much pain." She continued, "I remember laying in the ocean and going, 'Just take me, I just cannot live one more day.'"

Hadid has experienced so much pain with Lyme and has had to see her children go through the same type of pain. It's these experiences that motivated her to write her memoir, "Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease."

Ryan Sutter

Ryan Sutter is best known for winning the first-ever season of "The Bachelorette." Although he's a famous reality star, he is also a devoted husband, fitness enthusiast, and hardworking firefighter. And in late May 2021, Sutter went on his wife Trista's podcast, "Better Etc." to announce that he'd been diagnosed with Lyme. The following month, he confirmed in an Instagram post, "I have Lyme disease." Sutter has been dealing with Lyme symptoms for over a year, and for most of that time was not getting any of the answers he needed.

In December 2020, Sutter posted a couple of Instagram photos with captions about his health struggles, which at the time were undiagnosed. "Though I am functional and continue to work my regular fire schedule, I am experiencing a battery of symptoms which include: fatigue — sometimes almost paralyzing, deep body and muscle aches, fevers, night sweats, full body itching with no rash, headaches, neck and throat swelling, congestion, lightheadedness, nausea, and just general all around not feeling good," wrote Sutter.

Nevertheless, Sutter has hope. "I am aware of my condition and acutely aware that I am not alone in my challenges — not even close," he revealed in June. "I'm focused on regaining my health, sharing in that process as appropriate and advocating for a better understanding of this disease and a MUCH better path towards diagnosis, treatment and healing."

Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson is a popular singer-songwriter, as well as a previous contestant on season 25 of "Dancing with the Stars." It may be surprising to fans that someone with Lyme disease can be such an active multitasker, but Gibson has found a way. 

According to an interview with People, Gibson was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013. She told People that the illness forced her to take a close look at how she treats her body. "I can't be cavalier with my body. I can't just push myself without thinking [about] what happens next. [Lyme Disease] can affect my stamina," said Gibson. And although she was one of the older contestants on that season of "DWTS," she remained positive that she could use her illness to grow and learn. "I've always been in tune with my body," said Gibson. "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."