Michelle Visage, 51, is famed for her role as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and is currently shimmying her way across TV screens on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing. The straight-talking New Jersey native’s life has not always been glitzy, however, as she had to endure her fair share of adversity and ill health. Michelle has battled with a chronic illness that only now is beginning to recover from.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the star said: “Being on Strictly is amazing, but also pretty emotional for me, because it marks my rebirth.
“I feel like a new person and after being ill for around twenty years, that’s something I never dreamt would happen.
“This is my second chance at life and being able to live it to the full.”
Michelle suffers from Hashimoto’s disease which affects the immune system and attacks the thyroid.
She initially feared it was cancer due to a long standing debate regarding the relationship between thyroid cancer and Hashmito’s.
Michelle thankfully got the all-clear just before hopping onto a plane to the UK to compete in Strictly.
Michelle said: “My thyroid had doubled in size and I had to have a biopsy before I left America.
“Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer. I was told it was benign on the day I came to England, which was a really big moment.”
Writing on her Instagram, Michelle added: “Over the last two years my body was so inflamed from my breast implant illness my thyroid nodule doubled in size.
Those that know me and listen to my podcast, know my struggles with Hashimoto’s for the past 20 years.
I’m sharing this with you because we have to be our women health advocates.”
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US and is caused by antibodies that attack the thyroid and destroy it.
It’s possible to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for years without experiencing a single symptom.
However, there are hallmark signs and symptoms of the disorder. Symptoms include tiredness, weight gain, muscle pain, constipation or thinning hair.
Michelle added: “I’ve suffered hair loss, weight gain, lethargy and hardcore panic attacks, but the worst was brain fog and not being able to remember things.”
Michelle has stunned audiences and judges on the dancing show.
The mother of two is the epitome of never giving up and is not letting the condition get in her way. “Oh, I’m going to Blackpool,” she says, with some finality.