Wendy Williams

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Wendy Williams first revealed her diagnosis of Graves’ disease in 2018, and she admitted at the time that she hadn’t been watching out for her own health when it happened. “We, as women, particularly if — we have families, you know, we’re taking care of children, we’re taking care of, you know, home, our husbands, we take care of everybody but ourselves,” she told Good Morning America at the time, per PEOPLE.

“And it’s really unfortunate. And that — that is something that has no socioeconomic thing to it. No matter what — no matter what the woman’s status is, it seems like we’re all in the same boat,” she said. “I’m not doing that anymore. Wendy first.”

Five years later, Wendy was diagnosed with “primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD),” according to a statement shared by her medical team. Actor Bruce Willis also suffers from FTD.

Here’s everything to know about Wendy Williams’ battle with Graves’ disease, FTD and aphasia from her initial diagnosis to how she’s doing today.

Wendy Williams Was Diagnosed With Multiple Illnesses

Wendy Williams
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In February of 2018, Wendy opened an important public discussion about Graves’ disease. “My thyroid has been totally cattywampus and that is the eye thing that you all have been seeing. You caught it before I did,” she told the audience during her show, per CBS News. She also explained that her hyperthyroidism is connected to the diagnosis. “My thyroid, my hyperthyroid is attached also to Graves’ disease,” she explained. “Graves’ disease squeezes the muscles behind your eyeballs and so that’s the reason for — ” she then opened her eyes wide to explain what that meant.

At the time, she also admitted that she’d been ordered to take a three-week hiatus from the show by her physician. She’d already missed one, noting that she’d been feeling like she had “birds swimming around my head, like a cartoon” ahead of the diagnosis. “I’ll be back in two. I’m not an heiress,” she quipped. “Who’s gonna pay my bills?”

In 2023, Wendy was formally diagnosed with FTD and aphasia, her medical team confirmed the following year.

“On behalf of Wendy Williams Hunter, her care team is sharing this very personal update with her cherished fans, friends, and supporters to correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health,” a statement from Wendy’s team read, per TV Insider. “Wendy would not have received confirmation of these diagnoses were it not for the diligence of her current care team, who she chose, and the extraordinary work of the specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine. Receiving a diagnosis has enabled Wendy to receive the medical care she requires.”

The statement continued, “The decision to share this news was difficult and made after careful consideration, not only to advocate for understanding and compassion for Wendy, but to raise awareness about aphasia and frontotemporal dementia and support the thousands of others facing similar circumstances. Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioral changes but have not yet received a diagnosis.”

Wendy’s family revealed in an interview with PEOPLE they weren’t told she was diagnosed with dementia. Her sister Wanda Finnie said the family has been out of the loop about Wendy’s health since the fall of 2021, before Wendy was placed under a court-controlled guardianship. “When she was in Florida, there were a number of people involved. Even beyond family, there were doctors involved, people in Wendy’s professional world that were involved,” Wanda recalled. “She had a health team in place, nurses in place and she had family in place. She was getting healthier.”

What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is “a condition affecting language and communication abilities,” Wendy’s medical team explained in their statement.

What Is Graves’ disease?

Graves’ disease is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Symptoms can include irritability, bulging eyes, weight loss, anxiety, tremors in the hands, fatigue, and heat sensitivity. Wendy had admitted on her show that she felt stressed out and highly irritable leading up to her diagnosis.

What Is Frontotemporal Dementia?

Per the statement shared by Wendy’s medical team, FTD is “a progressive disorder impacting behavior and cognitive functions.” Living with this condition has “presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life.”

How Long Has Wendy Been Sick?

As noted earlier, Wendy was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2018. She noted in her Good Morning America interview that year that menopause had obfuscated her symptoms. “With the menopause I wasn’t pointing a finger to any particular thing,” she told GMA‘s Amy Robach. “I was just feeling like ‘All right, well I’m 53 and this is I guess how it’s supposed to be.’”

She also noted that when she had passed out publicly during her show on Halloween of 2017, she’d been found to have elevated blood pressure. “Even in October when I passed out on Halloween, that particular day when the EMTs got there I had high blood pressure, which I never have high blood pressure,” she said. “My blood pressure is always either perfect or low. It’s never high. But it was high and the lack of sodium so they were filling me with electrolytes, just fill, fill, fill, fill. I can’t believe that I got up after the commercial break and closed out the show.”

How Is Wendy Doing Today?

Wendy Williams

“I feel a hundred percent better than I was a few months ago,” Wendy told PEOPLE in 2018. “I had a storm going in my body is the best way I can explain it. It came from me neglecting my six month endocrinology appointment. I have Graves disease and hyperthyroid. If you have one you don’t necessarily have to have the other, but I have both, and I was diagnosed with both 19 years ago.”

Her full commitment to health began before the end of her show in 2022. “I love doing the show, but I love me more,” she told PEOPLE. “So I’m going to take care of me, so I can be there for them.” In October of 2022, it was reported that she had left a rehab facility after two months of treatment for “overall health issues.” “We are happy to report that Wendy Williams is home and healing after being in a wellness facility since August,” Wendy’s rep, Shawn Zanotti, told Page Six in a statement at the time.

“Wendy is excited about the road ahead and looking forward to releasing her many projects,” the statement read. “Thank you to my fans for your love, support and many prayers, I am back and better than ever.”

She suffered a setback, though, by 2023 after being diagnosed with FTD and aphasia. Wendy’s family decided to speak out about her life now and condition in the doc Where Is Wendy Williams? which premiered in early 2024.

“I don’t think there’s anyone Wendy needed more than her family,” Wanda told PEOPLE after the release of the doc, which highlights Wendy’s health issues, and how her guardianship has kept her away from her family. “Separate the money part: All I want to know is that my sister is going to live and that she’s going to be healthy,” Wanda added. “The concern of the family has always been Wendy’s health.”

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