Many Hollywood stars have gone public with their battles with Lyme disease, an inflammatory bacterial illness that's transferred by ticks. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at some of the celebrities who've spoken out about their struggles with the chronic illness, including this reality TV star… Former "The Bachelor" star Kelley Flanagan, an attorney who was a contestant on season 24 when Peter Weber was the star, revealed in August 2021 that she has Lyme disease and thinks it's "something that I've had maybe for a while," she said in an emotional Instagram video. "Two of my brothers have Lyme disease and a lot of their symptoms sounded really similar to me," she explained. "It's a blessing and a curse [to get a diagnosis] because now I can target why I feel off so often but also means several different lifestyle changes and extensive research on how to help/hopefully cure this!" She continued, "I know this is going to be tough for me seeing what my brothers have gone through mentally and physically but I'm going to put so much of my time and energy into figuring this out and combatting this," adding, "I'm trying to stay positive."
Keep reading to see what more stars have said about their struggles with Lyme disease…
RELATED: Stars who've died from COVID-19
In June 2021, "The Real Housewives of Orange County" alum Kelly Dodd revealed that she and husband Rick Leventhal, a former correspondent for Fox News, had contracted Lyme disease. While it was her first experience with the illness — "I've never had contact with a tick in my life," she said on Instagram, as reported by People magazine — Rick said he'd battled it twice before but had been cured with antibiotics previously and was hoping for another successful outcome.
After suffering from debilitating fatigue and other health issues for a year, Ryan Sutter — who won the very first season of "The Bachelorette" and is married to its star, Trista Sutter — in May 2021 revealed that he'd recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease triggered by high levels of mold toxins in his body, something he encountered because of his work as a firefighter. "It seems to be that what happened is that my immune system was weakened through exposures to toxins and especially to mold," he explained on his wife's "Better Etc." podcast. "There are other people in the fire academy that probably had the same exposures who aren't dealing with these exposures because their genetics are stronger, they're able to get rid of the toxins easier." As reported by People magazine, tests at the time also revealed he was positive for COVID-19 as well as the Epstein-Barr virus. His weakened immune system allowed "prior infections that my immune system had [previously] been able to sort of suppress and keep down, to resurface," he said. "I now essentially have Lyme disease — it seems like something that I will always have, it's just that now I know, and I will try to build back my immune system to fight it off."
RELATED: Celebs who've had cancer
In September 2020, Amy Schumer took to Instagram to reveal she'd been diagnosed with Lyme disease and to ask fans for insight about their own battles. "Anyone get LYME this summer? I got it and I'm on doxycycline. I have maybe had it for years," the comedian wrote. "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. Please comment or text me on my number in my bio. I also want to say that I feel good and am excited to get rid of it."
In January 2020, pop star Justin Bieber told fans in an Instagram post that though people had suggested he looked like he was "on meth," he was actually dealing with health issues. "They failed to realise I've been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease, not only that but had a serious case of chronic mono which affected my skin, brain function, energy, and overall health," he explained, adding that he was getting "the right treatment" to help address the issues.
In March 2020, "The Real Housewives of New York City" star Ramona Singer revealed that she'd just been diagnosed with Lyme disease. She told E! News she began feeling sick around Valentine's Day and decided to see a specialist, who put her on an antibiotic before ordering subsequent followup tests. The reality TV star, who coincidentally ended up infected with COVID-19 around the same time, she later revealed, believes she contracted Lyme disease from an undetected tick bite while staying at her home in The Hamptons on New York's Long Island. "You must get tested once a year, especially if you're in an area where there are deer," she said. "But we caught it early and I'm very lucky and very blessed."
Alec Baldwin first referenced his battle with Lyme disease in a 2011 interview with The New York Times and then stayed mostly mum on the subject until a May 2017 appearance at the Bay Area Lyme Foundation LymeAid benefit. "I have ticks all over me," joked the actor, who, according to People magazine, was first bitten by a tick two decades ago and then bitten again a few years later. "I got the classic Lyme disease [symptoms] for each successive summer, for five years, every August, like this black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed," he said. "The first round [was the worst], and then it diminished, at least that's how I perceived it." Continued Alec, "The first time was the worst of all. … And I really thought this is it, I'm not going to live. I was alone, I wasn't married at the time, I was divorced from my first wife. 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.'"
Country music star Shania Twain contracted the bacterial infection when she was bitten by a tick while horseback riding in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2003. She began to suffer problems with her vocal cords and lost her voice, leading her to take a break from performing. "There was a long time I thought I would never sing again," she said on "Loose Women" in August 2020. "It took years to get to the bottom of what was affecting my voice and I would say probably a good seven years before a doctor was able to find out that it was nerve damage to my vocal cords directly caused by Lyme disease."
Model Bella Hadid has battled Lyme disease since she was a teenager. She opened up about her struggle while being honored at the Global Lyme Alliance's Uniting for a Lyme-Free World Gala in 2016. "I know what it feels like to not want to get out of bed from bone pains and exhaustion and days on end of not wanting to socialize or be around people because the anxiety and brain fog just isn't worth it," she said. "After years of this, you begin to get used to living with the sickness, instead of getting cured and moving on with your life." Bella also revealed at the gala that she had to give up her dreams of becoming a professional horseback rider because of the chronic illness. Bella's brother, model Anwar Hadid, was also diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012.
Former model Yolanda Hadid, a "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" alum, has spoken candidly about her struggle with Lyme disease. "Most diseases you might want to battle out in the privacy of your own home, but Lyme disease is so undervalued and so misunderstood by the world that it is an obligation to each and every one of us to share our story until we get the acknowledgment and the respect that we deserve from the medical establishments," Yolanda said at the Global Lyme Alliance Gala in 2016.
In 2011, Ben Stiller told The Hollywood Reporter that he was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2010 after suffering from a lingering knee injury. "I'm symptom-free now, but Lyme doesn't ever leave your system. It's a really tough thing," he said.
In April 2017, Kelly Osbourne revealed her battle with Lyme disease in her memoir, which was excerpted in Us Weekly. She was bit by a tick in 2004 while visiting her family's reindeer sanctuary in England but didn't know until much later that she'd contracted Lyme disease. After years of being prescribed medication after medication for a slew of issues, the recovering addict was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease after she visited an alternative medicine practitioner who'd treated brother Jack Osbourne, who has multiple sclerosis. "I had stage III neurological Lyme disease. I was relieved to finally know what was going on, but I was also scared s***less," Kelly wrote. She went to Germany for stem cell therapy. "Rather than trying to kill off the disease with antibiotics, this treatment worked to strengthen my immune system so my body could fight off and get rid of the disease on its own, which is a much more complete and lasting cure," she explained.
Avril Lavigne has been very vocal about her battle with Lyme disease. Her symptoms began in the summer of 2014, which led her to start seeing specialists who eventually diagnosed her with the bacterial illness. "I went from doctor to doctor for about eight months, which was unacceptable and frustrating. I [finally] found somebody [who] had the knowledge and the expertise of treating it," Avril told People magazine in 2015. "I want to bring awareness to hopefully help other people."
In 2015, "The Sopranos" actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler revealed she's privately been battling multiple sclerosis for 15 years since being diagnosed at age 20. But it wasn't the only debilitating illness she was fighting. "I had been diagnosed with Lyme disease a year before," she told People magazine.
Ashley Olsen reportedly struggles with the low energy and physical pain that comes with battling Lyme disease. The fashion designer's alleged condition was made public by In Touch magazine in 2015, although Ashley has yet to confirm the diagnosis.
Former President George W. Bush was treated for Lyme disease in the summer of 2006. He developed the distinctive bullseye rash that often marks the onset of the illness.
Ally Hilfiger, daughter of famed fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, chronicled her struggle with Lyme Disease in the 2016 book "Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made me Crazy and Almost Killed Me." After a tick bite at age 7, Ally began feeling Lyme disease symptoms but went through years of misdiagnoses until she was finally correctly diagnosed at 19. She told Marie Claire of her hopes for the book, "I would love to bring to light, besides just educating about Lyme in general, that it's a very complicated disease and it's very, very scary for the people who are dealing with it because your insides don't match your outsides."
Actor Peter Sarsgaard was infected with Lyme disease — twice! — while summering in Martha's Vineyard. "I was essentially asymptomatic the first time and as we all know the testing isn't reliable," he told the Lyme Research Alliance. "I'm a runner who likes to go off the beaten track so I was particularly at risk. But Martha's Vineyard is the bullseye for getting the [hallmark] bullseye [rash]. I was lucky that I was spared the ravages of the disease. I caught it early since my family and I performed nightly tick checks and I made it a regular practice after every summer to get tested. Everyone around me took it very seriously and I am thankful to all of them for making me so vigilant."
Former teen pop star Debbie Gibson was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013. She told People magazine of her healing process, "I'm taking things day by day. I get into trouble when I look too far ahead and worry about the future. I'm now grateful for each day. This whole experience has taught me a ton of life lessons."
In 2000, Richard Gere allegedly had to postpone filming "Autumn in New York" after undergoing antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease.
Supermodel Christy Turlington was reportedly diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2007 and successfully treated with antibiotics. Her spokesperson said the same year, "While we don't answer any questions about Christy's private life, so there is no misunderstanding… Christy is very healthy and fine."
Hall & Oates singer Daryl Hall was diagnosed with Lyme disease in the early aughts and has long sought to raise awareness of the debilitating illness. Like most people burdened by Lyme disease, his symptoms come and go. "I would consider it maintained and under control now. As I said, I do have various flare-ups, but they don't seem to be debilitating; these flare-ups aren't something that I can't live with onstage. I can handle it," Daryl told Healthline.
Parker Posey spoke out about her Lyme disease diagnosis in 2009. The actress received antibiotic treatment for the illness and it failed to rid her of all her symptoms. Soon after, Parker — an advocate for holistic treatments — supported "Rethinking Cancer," a documentary which follows five patients (one with Lyme disease) who pursue alternative means to combat their diseases.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" actress Karen Allen struggled with Lyme disease for years after contracting it while hiking in 2002. After she was finally diagnosed, specialists failed to help her as she went from one antibiotic protocol to the next, Macrobiotic News reported in 2010. She also visited acupuncturists and a cranial sacral practitioner and tried herbal medicines as well as colloidal silver. Ultimately, she found relief after using a device known as a parasitic zapper.
Actress and former Mrs. Donald Trump Marla Maples has also suffered from Lyme disease. Marla, who was diagnosed at 22, said of her symptoms in a press release issued by the Global Lyme Alliance, "I was achy and hurting and had very low energy."
Musician Kathleen Hanna, a pioneer of the feminist punk riot grrrl movement, has battled Lyme disease for years. Her struggle was chronicled in the 2013 documentary "The Punk Singer." She told Pitchfork of the debilitating illness, "There was a period where I could barely do anything except paint watercolors in my journal."
Academy Award-nominated actress Jane Alexander has relapsed with Lyme disease three times throughout her life. She also has family and friends who have battled the disease. Jane told Truthout, "We are the lucky ones; we had doctors who diagnosed it quickly and gave us adequate medicine. Those I know who were not so lucky have terrible debilitating sickness of one kind or another, which lasts for years, perhaps a lifetime."
"The Joy Luck Club" author Amy Tan has spoken about her aggravation in dealing with Lyme disease. Amy experienced neurological symptoms including fatigue, memory loss and olfactory hallucinations. Her experience was unique, to say the least. She told the Washington Post in 2003, "I smelled dead rat briefly, but over a period of hours" and in different locations. "It's definitely weird."
"The Color Purple" author Alice Walker has said her battle with Lyme disease led to a "spiritual transformation." "I didn't know that was going to be the result," she she told a church congregation in Oakland, California, in 2006, "but I came out the other end of the bashing that I had received, the physical debilitation from Lyme disease, the breakup of my relationship with a partner at the time. I came out of all of that with a renewed sense that life itself, no matter what people are slinging at you, no matter what is happening, life itself, basic life, is incredibly precious and wonderful and that we are so lucky to have that."