Famous Faces of Crohn’s Disease
Learn about celebrities that achieved notoriety despite having this complicated intestinal disease.
Celebrities with Crohn’s
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that requires continuous management, including medication, diet regulations, and in some cases, even surgery. The chronic condition can have a profound impact on a person’s life, as flare-ups can cause abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, and others uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), Crohn’s affects about 700,000 Americans, and it doesn’t shy away from the rich, powerful, and famous. Learn about people who have become famous while battling this complicated disorder.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The 34th President of the United States of America was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease while in office in 1956. Despite being hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital where he underwent surgery, President Eisenhower was reelected to a second term.
Due partially to his four-pack-a-day smoking habit, the President also suffered a heart attack and a mild stroke in 1957. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1969 at the age of 78.
Like President Eisenhower, the 53rd mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, Thomas Menino, has been hospitalized several times while in office since 1993. The answer to the cause of his recurring abdominal pains and intestinal problems finally came in 2004 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Much like other Crohn’s patients, the diagnosis took several years, but now the mayor knows how to treat this chronic condition with anti-inflammatory medications and a strict diet.
Famous for her role as Brenda Walsh in Beverly Hills, 90210 and as Prue Halliwell on Charmed, Shannen Doherty has played some mean women on television and the big screen. While filming for these and other roles, she was battling Crohn’s, but kept it from the public. In a 1999 interview with Star magazine, Doherty disclosed her condition, revealing that she had remained silent about it because it wasn’t very sexy.
Theoren Fleury, Shayne Corson, and Kevin Dineen
You’re not going to make your way into the NHL without being a tough guy. However, no matter how tough Theoren Fleury, Shayne Corson, and Kevin Dineen were, Crohn’s was the one thing that could bring them to their knees. Still, with proper treatment, perseverance, and hard work, these three greats went on to make their marks in the world of professional hockey.
Drafted in 2002, David Garrard played quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s and underwent surgery that removed nearly a foot of his intestines. Still, he played in the 2004 season as starting quarterback for the Jaguars.
An active advocate for Crohn’s awareness, Garrard brings attention to the disease through a program called “In the Zone for Crohn’s,” appearing in television commercials to spread awareness about the disease. Garrard also spoke about Crohn’s at Painted Turtle Camp, a camp for children with chronic diseases.
Some people take their problems in stride, while others make fun of them. Comedian Ben Morrison turned his awkward years in high school and college as a student “with a poop disease” to create his funny and cathartic show, “Pain in the Butt: a Touching Tale about a Touchy Tail.”
Besides “Pain in the Butt,” Morrison has appeared on Last Comic Standing, MTV’s Punk’d, and Thought Rocket on Current TV, among other shows. He is also active with several charities.
Diagnosed at the age of 21, Mike McCready took control of his condition immediately. It’s a good thing he did; otherwise he might not have helped form Pearl Jam in 1990, igniting the grunge rock era. Still, Crohn’s sometimes forced him off the stage mid-song.
After publicly announcing his condition, McCready took on the activist role, volunteering with the northwest chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, including lending his talents for fundraisers.
Cynthia McFadden is the co-anchor of Nightline and Primetime and a correspondent for ABC News. As if her schedule weren’t hectic and stressful enough, McFadden also has to treat Crohn’s disease daily. She, like many other celebrities, uses her notoriety to raise awareness about the condition, including public service announcements.
Anastacia, an American singer-songwriter, has been highly successful overseas. At the age of 13, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s. After undergoing surgery to remove part of her intestinal tract, she was bound to a wheelchair and had to learn how to walk again. While trying to lose weight to make it in show business, she suffered a severe flare.
Even with all of the setbacks, she became a wildly popular, award-winning singer, songwriter, and recording artist.
While having Crohn’s causes hardships, these stories show that with proper treatment, you can continue to follow your dreams and passions while living with Crohn’s. The difficulty for most Crohn’s patients is getting an accurate diagnosis, which often comes as a relief as it means the beginning of proper treatment.
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Crohn’s patients in America, take pride in being among those who climbed above the challenges to achieve fame.