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Shania Twain, Angelina Jolie and 8 Other Celebs Who Want You to Take Your Health Seriously
Are you checking in with yourself and your health needs? These 10 celebrities have been totally transparent about their health issues in hopes that it will inspire you to take your health seriously.
It’s a scientifically proven fact that celebrities have a significant influence on public health; it's something researchers have dubbed “the Angelina Jolie effect.” When the star revealed that she decided to undergo a preventative double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA-1 gene, the demand for the test — as well as the preventive surgery itself — doubled. While an individual’s health is nobody’s business but their own, Jolie as well these nine other celebrities have chosen to bravely speak out about the medical conditions that have affected their (or loved ones’) lives in hopes of helping to educate others. Read on for their inspiring stories: They may even motivate you to take your health more seriously.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
1. Katie Couric Wants You to Get a Colonoscopy
In 1998, Katie Couric’s husband, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer — the second leading cause of cancer death among Americans. Two years later, the talk-show host televised herself getting a colonoscopy on “Today” (camera in the colon and everything). “It felt like this disease cheated Jay out of so many things, taking him when he was just 42, and our girls were 2 and 6 years old,” “I was compelled to try to have something good come from his senseless death — to help other families avoid the type of terrible loss mine had endured," Couric told SheKnows. She went on to co-found Stand Up 2 Cancer, the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health.
UP NEXT: This beloved host says a physical was key in catching her brain tumor.
2. Maria Menounos Wants You to Get a Physical
While her mother was in the midst of battling stage 4 brain cancer, Maria Menounos was experiencing terrible headaches, blurred vision and speech issues. Her doctor suggested a full physical, which ended up saving her life. “If I hadn’t gone in for a physical, I would have never realized that I had a brain tumor and we would have never discovered it,” she said. Now an ambassador for Rally Health, an organization providing health and well-being information to most members receiving UnitedHealthcare coverage, Menounos emphasizes the importance of getting an annual physical.
3. Angelina Jolie Wants You to Be Informed About Breast Cancer Prevention
After losing her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to breast cancer and learning she too carried the BRCA1 gene (which indicates she was at a higher risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers than people without the gene), Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy. In 2015, she had her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed after doctors discovered she had a small, benign ovarian tumor. Instead of keeping her health woes a secret, the usually very private star penned poignant essays about both of her experiences for the New York Times — and people listened. A recent study found that Jolie’s preventative measures led many other women to do the same.
UP NEXT: This newscaster wants to help cancer survivors thrive.
4. Robin Roberts Wants to Help Cancer Survivors Thrive
In August 2007, Robin Roberts began treatment for breast cancer, undergoing a partial mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. A few years later she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome, often caused by cancer therapies. She began treatment again and also received a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Now free of cancer and healthy, Roberts joined the V Foundation for Cancer Research’s board of directors in 2012. In 2017, the Robin Roberts Fund for Cancer Survivorship Research was formed. “Cancer survivorship is finally coming to the forefront. While cancer prevention and treatment are critical, helping survivors thrive is equally important,” said Roberts.
UP NEXT: This popular “Dancing with the Stars” alum gets real about her endometriosis.
5. Julianne Hough Wants You to Talk About Endometriosis
In 2008, Julianne Hough was diagnosed with endometriosis — a disease affecting 10 percent of American women in which the uterus lining that normally grows on the inside of the uterus grows on the outside, often causing extreme pain and fertility complications. Hough, who kept her diagnosis on the down low for many years (even hiding it from now-husband Brooks Laich), encourages women to share their stories with others. “Whether that’s your significant other, your family, a friend, your co-workers, whatever it may be, this should not be something that you should be afraid of,” she told Self. “In fact, I own it now, and I am so glad that I have a voice to be able to help people with it.”
6. Hugh Jackman Wants You to Get Regular Skin Checks
In 2017, Hugh Jackman revealed he had been diagnosed with his fifth bout of skin cancer, urging fans to take precautions. “Another basal cell carcinoma,” he wrote in an Instagram photo showing off his bandaged nose. “Thanks to frequent checks & amazing doctors, all’s well. Looks worse w the dressing on than off! WEARSUNSCREEN,” Jackman captioned the photo. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 80 to 90 percent of all skin cancers. (If detected early, it has a high rate of successful treatment.) In 2013, the fourth time he had the cancer removed, he revealed it was his wife who encouraged him to have the mark checked out. “Please don’t be foolish like me,” he wrote. “Get yourself checked.”
UP NEXT: This hilarious model and Twitter personality gets serious about postpartum depression.
7. Chrissy Teigen Wants to Destigmatize Postpartum Depression
Chrissy Teigen found herself seriously unhappy after giving birth to baby Luna, her first child, with husband John Legend. She realized she was suffering from postpartum depression, but initially was afraid of talking about it for fear of being judged. “I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody, and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone,” she poignantly penned in an essay about her experience for Glamour. In addition to exercising, Teigen revealed she was taking medication and seeing a therapist to treat the condition that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects one in every nine women.
8. Shania Twain Wants You to Get Checked for Ticks
In 2017, Shania Twain revealed she had been suffering from Lyme disease since 2003, after getting bit by a tick while on tour in Virginia. “I was very, very dizzy, and didn’t know what was going on. It’s just one of those things you don’t suspect," she said. The tick-borne disease resulted in dysphonia, a vocal cord disorder that eventually left her unable to sing for a while and forced her to undergo extensive speech therapy and vocal training. Now she's very vocal about getting checked. “It’s a debilitating disease and extremely dangerous. You can’t play around with it, so you’ve got to check yourself for ticks.”
UP NEXT: This actor wants you to know something about his oral cancer.
9. Michael Douglas Wants You to Know That Oral Sex Can Cause Cancer
In 2010, the “Fatal Attraction” star complained to his doctor of “soreness at the back of his teeth.” After two rounds of antibiotics and nine months of symptoms, a friend encouraged him to make an appointment with an oncologist. He was diagnosed with stage 4 oral cancer, treating the condition with an aggressive form of radiation as well as chemotherapy. In a highly publicized interview with The Guardian, Douglas declared that his “particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus]," which is linked to oral sex. While the sexually transmitted disease is one of the things that can lead to an individual developing oral cancer — currently responsible for 70 percent of throat cancer cases — heavy drinking and smoking as well as a weakened immune system are other contributing factors.
Read more: 20 Celebrities Who Have Battled Cancer
10. Kate Walsh Wants You to Be Your Own Health Advocate
In 2015, Kate Walsh was constant exhaustion, but when her mental and physical state began to deteriorate even more, she decided to see a doctor. “I really pushed to see a neurologist... I got an MRI, and thank God I did, because it turned out I had a very sizable brain tumor in my left frontal lobe,” she told Cosmopolitan. The actress, who successfully underwent surgery to have it removed, has teamed up with other actors who have played doctors on television — including Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Dempsey and Donald Faison — and health insurance company Cigna on its TV Doctors campaign, encouraging Americans to get an annual checkup.
What Do YOU Think?
Have any of these celebrity stories motivated you to take your health more seriously? Whose story do you find the most compelling? Do you think it is celebrities’ job to be transparent about their health issues for the greater good? Sound off in the comments section!