'Dancing With the Stars' Cast List Includes 5 Celebs With Illnesses and Disabilities


“Dancing With the Stars” released its cast list for season 25 today, and four of the 13 competitors have personal experience related to disability and illness.

Paralympian Victoria Arlen was diagnosed with transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis as a teen, leaving her unable to talk or move her body for four years. Arlen eventually started talking again and gained feeling in her upper body. She used a wheelchair for almost 10 years, but started walking again a year and a half ago. She won three silver medals and one gold swimming at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Debbie Gibson, 80s pop icon, has been open about living with Lyme disease after being diagnosed in 2013. Gibson told People in 2014 that the disease affected her physical health as well as her cognitive skills.

Barbara Corcoran, who is most known as an investor on ‘Shark Tank,’ has dyslexia. “It made me more creative, more social and more competitive,” Corcoran said in an interview with Entrepreneur in 2014.

Violinist Lindsey Stirling has also spoken publicly, sharing her experience with anorexia. Stirling worried about gaining weight her freshman year, so she started counting calories, which eventually got out of hand.

“I’d never had self-esteem issues but as my obsession grew my self-worth became directly connected to what I ate,” she wrote for Stella Magazine in March.

Actress Sasha Pieterse revealed on an episode of “Dancing With the Stars” that she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which has caused her to gain weight over the last two years and be subjected to body-shaming comments.

Nick Lachey, the lead singer of 90s boyband 98 Degrees, hasn’t been diagnosed with a condition personally, but he advocates for autism awareness with his brother, Zac, who is on the spectrum. Lachey has helped raise funds for Autism Speaks and Micah’s Voice, a non-profit organization that provides financial and community support for families with loved ones on the spectrum.

This story has been updated.

Header image photo via Facebook.

Related to Chronic Illness

screenshots of egg inc and word cookies games

15 Fun Games to Play on Your Phone When Your Health Keeps You Home

Having a chronic illness can leave you with free time where you aren’t able to go out and be active, but you still want to challenge your brain. Perhaps it’s a high-pain day and you want to distract yourself, or maybe you’re stuck waiting at a doctor’s appointment. On those days, you probably find yourself reaching for your smartphone [...]

How I Keep the Chronic Illness 'Unicorn Days' in Perspective

If you’ve experienced a chronic illness for long, you probably understand the hidden frustration of the “good” days that isn’t talked about much. I call these days when symptoms are at a minimum “unicorn days,” because they are so rare and magical. However, as wonderful as these days may be, they often lead to disappointment [...]
doctor comforting patient's hand

Why I'm So Thankful for Doctors Who Don't Let Me Settle for Feeling 'OK'

For 13 years I have been under the care of a psychiatrist, and more recently, a cardiologist. I’ve been going to the same dentist’s office for even longer. So it is safe to say that when I find someone I like, I’m loyal for life. They are all some of the best in the business, [...]

What No One Tells You About Surviving a Natural Disaster With Chronic Illness

For those who don’t follow my Facebook page, I live in Texas on the gulf coast and we were just hit by a hurricane. It made landfall hundreds of miles away, but it caused a lot of rain and I do mean a lot. My town was on the national news for receiving the most [...]