Last year I came across a story about Laura Hillenbrand, the well-known author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which later was turned into the movie Seabiscuit. Laura has had Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since she was 19.
In her very moving essay A Sudden Illness (New Yorker, July 7, 2003) Laura Hillenbrand recalls the earliest manifestations of ME/CFS while she was a student and the long process of receiving an accurate diagnosis.
This story made me wonder how many more celebrities there are out there suffering from ME/CFS. I started searching and it seems there are actually quite a number of well known individuals. Many of these people have been willing to raise awareness for this devastating illness by speaking out about how it has affected their lives and careers.
Below is a list of a few well-known individuals whose lives were affected by ME/CFS. For a more comprehensive list click the link at the bottom of this page.
•Florence Nightingale – English Nurse – Her illness began in 1896 after she returned from the Crimean War and spent years housebound, too fatigued to talk to more than one visitor at a time. Her birthday –May 12 1820- is celebrated as International ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.
•Charles Darwin – English Naturalist- When he arrived back in England after travels to South America and Pacific Islands, he started suffering from what has been described as fatigue, pains, abdominal troubles, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, etc. Medical journals suggest that he may have had ME/CFS.
•Marie Curie – Polish-born French Physicist and Chemist- At the age of 15 she suffered from what has been described as fatigue, exhaustion and nervous troubles, after graduating with honours from high school. The illness left her feeling extremely lethargic and she spent a year recuperating in the Polish countryside.
• Cher – singer songwriter – In 1992, Cher took some time off from her career. She was reported as saying that she caught a virus, the Epstein Barr virus, which later turned out to be ME/CFS.
“Boy, it was devastating for me…I wasn’t able to work for almost three years,” the singer added.
• Pema Chödrön – Author & Tibetan Buddhist nun – In 1994, after experiencing years of undiagnosable symptoms, she was found to be suffering from Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. Her discomfort became a source of compassion, “a heartfelt connection with all those unknown people” suffering similarly or much more than her.
• Peter Marshall – The former world No 2 squash player was at his peak when hit by ME/CFS. He was given the choice between a £250,000 insurance payout or a comeback. He chose the latter and made it back into the world’s top ten.
• Michelle Akers – Former Olympic soccer player, who starred in the1991 and 1999 Women’s World Cup victory by the U.S. She is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. In 1991, Michelle Akers was named the best woman soccer player in the world and had become the first woman player to have a paid endorsement.
After leading her team to victory for the first FIFA Women’s Soccer World Championship in China, she returned home completely exhausted. She rested. Two years after the initial symptoms began, Michelle collapsed during a game at the Olympic Sports Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
She was diagnosed with mononucleosis, then Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and finally, in the spring of 1994, Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS).
• Flea –Musician, Red Hot Chili Peppers – In 1993 he was diagnosed with ME/CFS.
• Stevie Nicks – Singer/ Songwriter, Fleetwood Mac – Diagnosed with ME/CFS in 1987.
For a more comprehensive list of well known personalities with ME/CFS, please click the link below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_chronic_fatigue_syndrome