Celebrities With Graves Disease: Survivors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Celebrities With Graves Disease. We continue blogging about celebrities focusing this time on famous people who are living with Graves Disease, a disorder in the immune system which results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones.

It’s symptoms include the following:

  • hyperactivity
  • mood swings – such as anxiety, irritability and nervousness
  • insomnia
  • feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
  • muscle weakness
  • needing to pass stools or urine more frequently
  • excess fats in your stools – which can make them greasy and difficult to flush down the toilet (steatorrhoea)
  • sensitivity to heat and excess sweating
  • unexplained or unexpected weight loss – despite having an increased appetite (though in a small number of cases, the increase in appetite can lead to weight gain)
  • very infrequent or light periods, or periods stopping altogether
  • infertility
  • loss of interest in sex, reduced libido, or erectile dysfunction

Here’s our list of celebrities with Graves disease:

Missy Elliot, singer. The Grammy Award-winning artist was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease following a near-accident after a loss of muscle control. She says of the incident: “I was driving and trying to put my foot on the brake, but my leg was jumping. I couldn’t keep the brake down and almost crashed.”

Missy talked about her disease in this interview with Sway in the Morning. Watch:

Here’s our transcript for the interview:

Question: You had a brush with mortality with what is it, Graves Disease? Did you at any point feel like, this disease might take me out?

“I was scared. Anybody who has Graves’ disease you feel like, you’re gonna be out of here. And for me when you say, ‘You gotta take the radiation’ you really feel you’ll be out of here. You know. Then you go.. my eyes change, your hair falls out. Your skin changes. Everything.

“Me, that was traumatic. I remember doing in the studio with Monica doing that record and I cannot write the words down because your nervous system breaks down. You shake so bad. So she was like, Missy I got it, I will write for you. She was there for me during that time. I so appreciate Monica. That was a very difficult time.

“And then, you know, I deal with high blood pressure too. So it just felt like everything was happening at once.

“But not to take you out to church but God allows things to happen. However, I felt like he was dealing with me in whatever way or maybe protecting me from something. So I had to sit out. And I feel like too this is a good time because everything feels saturated so when you come out, you come out with a refreshed mind.”

Faith Ford, actress. The Emmy-nominated actress was diagnosed with Graves disease in 1988. In this video interview, she tells us how she was diagnosed with Graves and how she is managing her condition:

Here’s a “transcript” for the interview:

Faith Ford: “I started to lose weight. I started to feel weak more than usual. Except I was eating more than usual. So I was like, “Why am I losing weight and eating more?” That sounds like a quality problem. But let me tell you when you got a rapid heart rate, your hot when everybody else is cold, you start to get a little nervous.

“And I don’t know what was going on. But I tried to ignore it and shove it aside to… nervous jitters, to doing the show and everything. Then finally one night, it just all intensified and I called the paramedics in. We were about to do a show and Candice said to me, “Faith, you gotta go to the doctor”. And I said, “You know you are right.”

“And they thought it was just a panic attack, the paramedics did. But I knew it was something more because it was a change, a significant change that have been oncoming for quite a few months. And I knew inside.

“So I went to the doctor. He tested everything that he could think of and, then, finally when I was about to give up he said, “Just swallow. Give me a glass of water.” I swallowed. He said, “O my gush, look.” And he showed me at the base of my neck, I watched it as I swallowed it traveled up. It really was a puffy swollen looking muscle.

“I thought I developed more muscle because I worked out. And it wasn’t, it was my thyroid.”

How does she manage today?
“After having it come back six years later and then deciding to either remove it or.. I did radioactive iodine. I went on thyroid hormone replacement therapy which is basically I went on medication. And I take it every morning. Basically I don’t have a thyroid anymore and it functions for me. And it does everything, it regulates everything in your body, your metabolism. With it I have quality of life back and I’m stronger than I was in my 20s. Healthier than I was. Its just a pill that I take every morning with no food. The same time, every morning.”

Gail Devers, three-time Olympic gold medal winner. She talks about her condition in this interview with The Guardian:

The nightmare had started as I trained for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. I began suffering mild hair loss and felt lethargic, and my weight dipped below 87 pounds. When I arrived in Seoul in September, I was eliminated in the semi-finals. I had not run as slowly since high school. The doctors had told me before those Games that my problems were caused by preparing too hard. But now my condition became even worse. I was shedding clumps of hair. My nails would not grow. Most of the skin fell away from my face; the rest merely hung off it. For two and a half years, doctors failed to diagnose my problem. My first husband [RJ Hampton, at the time a fellow athlete] tried to help, but it was too much for him. I had to go through that time alone. It was so disillusioning that I refused to go out because my appearance made people look away.

Finally I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an illness of the thyroid gland. Instead of surgery, I was given radiation treatment. Now, it would be a pill, but I actually drank radiation. The radiologist said: ‘You will feel sick but don’t vomit or we’ll have to start again. And for the next three weeks stay away from children and use a separate bathroom.’ This was when I nearly lost my feet. I woke one day and had a blister on my left foot that was so big I couldn’t put my shoe on. The podiatrist said it was not related to my illness, but by the time of my next check-up I was crawling from the bedroom to the bathroom. The radiation had proved too much and my thyroid was almost destroyed. The doctor told me I was lucky to survive.

Other celebrities with Graves disease include the following:
Marty Feldman, British comedian
George H. W. Bush, U.S. president,
Barbara Bush, wife of President George HW Bush
Rodney Dangerfield, American comedian and actor
Sia Furler, singer and song writer
Barbara Leigh, actress and fashion model who became the spokeswoman for the National Graves’ Disease Foundation
Sir Cecil Spring Rice, former British ambassador to the United States
Maggie Smith, British actress
Toni Childs, Australian singer-songwriter
Pat Bradley, pro golfer
Carla Overbeck, U.S. soccer Olympic gold medalist