Even Healthy People Get Sick: 15 Famous Athletes With Health Scares

Recently, Serena Williams received emergency treatment for a hematoma caused by a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in her lungs). Though she’s now recovering at home and hopes to be back on the tennis court by early summer, she says that her health problems have been “scary and disappointing,” according to the Washington Post. While most doctors and experts agree that the blood clot was likely caused by a recent foot surgery (which increases changes of an embolism), many fans are also scared by the fact that someone so healthy could suffer such serious medical conditions. Many headlines ask readers, “could it happen to you?” and the resounding answer is “yes.” Unfortunately, we’re all at risk for health complications — even the world’s best athletes.

Although I’m not a famous athlete I have always considered myself an athlete; one of healthy body and mind (give or take a few temporary events). If you have visited our new blog - CANCER- In Your Face, Allison’s Journey http://askinyourface.com, then you know that I too have been caught like a dear in head lights – with cancer. I have written and posted five entries if you would like to read and share them. Fortunately, my cancer ( not curable at this time) can be well managed and treated if the need arises.

Hopefully, we know ourselves well!  Please, listen to your bodies feedback – your inner voice! YES, you have one! Our body speaks volumes to us, truthfully, if we are genuinely willing and open to listening.  If you’re feeling uncomfortable about your health- CHECK IT OUT! Perhaps check it out twice.

We looked through the medical records of some of the best-known elite athletes out there, and found 15 more examples of surprising health problems in some of the world’s healthiest people. We don’t want to aggravate anyone’s hypochondria; we just think that these athletes’ health scares are proof that you should always watch for unusual health signs and visit your doctor.

lance-armstrongLance Armstrong, Former Professional Cyclist — Testicular Cancer Survivor

The seven-time-winner of the Tour de France recently retired from his professional cycling career, but not because of health problems: In 1996, he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, which spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain. Doctors only gave him a 40% chance of survival, but he went on to make a huge cycling comeback in 1998 and continued his career as a professional athlete until last month (February 2011).

dorothy-hamillDorothy Hamill, American Figure Skater — Breast Cancer Survivor

A World and Olympic Champion, Hamill announced that she was battling breast cancer in 1998. (Her mother was also treated for the disease.) Hamill was treated at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer center, and has been cancer-free since 2008.

boston-red-sox-mike-lowellMike Lowell, Former Major League Baseball Third Baseman — Testicular Cancer Survivor

In 1999, just one year after breaking into the Major Leagues, Lowell was diagnosed with testicular cancer, causing him to miss spring training and nearly two months of the regular season while he was with the Florida Marlins. He later went on to win three World Series titles and has been named to the All-Star team four times.

martina-navratilovaMartina Navratilova, Former Professional Tennis Player — Breast Cancer

The Czech-American tennis player is well known for her successful career (check out her Wikipedia page for a compendium of awards won). But in 2010, she announced that she was being treated for breast cancer with surgery and radiation.

ervin-magic-johnsonMagic Johnson, former NBA Player — HIV

The Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard had a long career in the NBA, and was named one of the 50 Best Players in 1996, and is certainly one of the most famous. But following the announcement of his infection with HIV in 1991, he also gained fame as one of the first HIV awareness advocates to discourage stereotypes and discrimination against those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.

Jim-FixxJim Fixx, American Runner — Heart Attack

Credited with making jogging popular in the U.S., Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running sold more than a million copies. His sudden death in 1984 due to a heart attack (which, ironically, occurred while running) was later found to be caused by high cholesterol.

gary-hall-jrGary Hall, Jr., American Olympic Swimmer — Diabetes

The son of an Olympic swimmer, Gary Hall, Jr. followed his father’s footsteps to win 10 Olympic medals (five gold) for freestyle swimming. But in the midst of his successful athletic career, he was diagnosed with type one (childhood) diabetes after the 1996 summer games in Atlanta, which caused a short break in his training. But it ultimately didn’t stop him from competing in two more Olympics.

Faye-DancerFaye Dancer, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Center-Fielder — Breast Cancer

Dancer’s career as a baseball player was made most famous by Madonna’s depiction of her in A League of Their Own, but she played baseball to great fanfare in the 1940s. She left her career due to back injuries, but in 2002, she died after receiving surgery for breast cancer at the UCLA hospital.

mario-lemieuxMario Lemieux, Canadian Former Professional Ice Hockey Player — Lymphoma and Atrial Fibullation Survivor

Known as one of the best hockey players of all time, Lemieux played 17 seasons in the NHL beginning in 1984, but not without breaks for serious health complications. In 1993, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, causing him to retire in 1997 due to aggressive radiation treatment. In 2000, he returned, but had to announce his second and final retirement in 2006 after struggling with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes irregular heartbeats. When he was diagnosed with cancer in 1993, he created the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which funds medical research projects.

Greg-LouganisGreg Louganis, former American Olympic Diver — HIV

Greg Louganis was named most outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S. in 1984, before winning gold medals for diving in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. He tested positive for HIV in 1988, and the story of his battle with HIV is in his book, Breaking the Surface, which was made into a Showtime movie in 1996. He has also become an active HIV awareness advocate.

Judy-RankinJudy Rankin, American Professional Golfer — Breast Cancer Survivor

Now 66, Judy Rankin has been golfing since she was 14, and picked up 26 LPGA Tour event wins throughout her long career. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2006 and completed treatment by August of the same year — and returned to work as a golf commentator right away.

lou-gehrigLou Gehrig, Major League Baseball First Baseman — Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Known in his time as “The Iron Horse,” Gehrig set several Major League records in his time. But his name was immortalized, tragically, due to his death by the neurological disease that has since been named for him.

Peggy-FlemingPeggy Fleming, former American Figure Skater — Breast Cancer Survivor

The Californian figure skater won five U.S. titles, three World titles, and the gold medal in the 1968 Winter Olympics, and has been working as a figure skater commentator on TV for several years. In 1998, she was diagnosed early with breast cancer, and received successful surgery. She’s since become an advocate for early testing.

muhammed-aliMuhammad Ali, Former American Boxer — Parkinson’s Disease

The three-time World Heavyweight Champion is known by many as “The Greatest” boxer of all time. Today, he suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Many attribute the disease to his sport, as those who are exposed to severe head trauma are more likely to develop the disease, even if you do float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.

arthur-asheArthur Ashe, Professional Tennis Player — Heart Attack; AIDS

Ashe is known as one of the best tennis players ever, winning three Grand Slam titles throughout his career. Unfortunately, he suffered a heart attack in 1979, which not only brought attention to the hereditary causes of heart disease but, sadly, led to his contraction of HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983. Ultimately, Ashe died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993, but did much before his death to promote AIDS awareness and improved health care.

Courtesy of BlissTree.com.

To read more from CANCER in Your Face – Allison’s Journey – click here! http://askinyourface.com

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  1. Hey great post We live in a society where pizza gets to your house before the police. Gratzi

  2. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is wonderful, as well as the content!

  3. Thank you SO much! I work with the Y in a program designed to educated kids about what cancer is, who it affects, and how we can live healthy to reduce the risk of cancer. The kids are stuck in the mindset that “cancer” always means a person dies but using athletes as an example of strength before and after cancer should be a huge help! Thanks for helping :)

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