Celebrities who kept secrets about their health for years

The higher a celebrity's star rises, the smaller their expectation of privacy gets. So it's no wonder that when dealing with a serious illness, most celebs choose to keep the information to themselves for as long as possible. After all, the stress of treatment, recovery, and just dealing with the healthcare system in general is hard enough without the relentless speculation and inquisition of the public eye. Here's a list of stars who waited years before sharing their private health struggles with the whole world.

Charlie Sheen

At the time of this writing, Charlie Sheen—or more accurately, his legal team—is being inundated with lawsuits by Sheen's former "romantic liaisons," who claim he did not disclose his HIV-positive status to them. By the actor's own admission, he's known about his diagnosis for four years, and while he claims he approached every lover he's had with "condoms and honesty" (which is a pretty gross turn of phrase), lots of them are claiming otherwise. But in Sheen's defense, and we find it extremely difficult to even type that, why were these people anywhere near his bedroom without a full hazmat suit? Because if there's one thing this guy hasn't lied about, it's his libido.

Michael J. Fox

In 1990, Michael J. Fox learned that he had Parkinson's disease, but he waited until 1998 to reveal it to the public. It was only after that long period of depression and self-medicating with booze that he realized neither alcohol nor self-pity were going to help him grapple with the reality of his situation. He stopped drinking, became an outspoken advocate for awareness of the disease, and lent his celebrity to countless fundraisers for efforts to research a cure. He's basically done a complete 180 since his initial shock and gloom, which we believe can actually be attributed to a second factor in addition to his diagnosis. That's right, 1990 was also the year Back to the Future Part III came out, which we feel confident saying made us all a little depressed.

Dick Van Dyke

At the age of 87, Dick Van Dyke revealed to Entertainment Tonight his struggle with "a yet-to-be diagnosed neurological disorder." He'd been dealing with the problem for seven years, which even for a young person would be maddening, but at his age, we'd probably just assume we were dying. But Van Dyke is apparently a tough old bird, so he underwent a ton of tests and was told that his titanium dental implants could be the culprit. Which is great news for him—simply get them removed and replaced with something less problematic. But the news is less than stellar if you're someone who gets scared just going to the dentist for a routine cleaning, because now your nightmares can include a side of residual brain damage along with the piercing sound of that drill. Sweet dreams!

Montel Williams

Forced to reveal his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 1999 to get out in front of a tabloid story, Montel Williams actually didn't get the chance to privately reconcile his new life-altering struggle. What he did choose to withhold from the public, however, was his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms, an admission he made four years later in his book, Climbing Higher. Get it? Marijuana use was nowhere near as acceptable in 2003 as has become in the years since, so Williams' admission was nothing short of a scandal. Granted, it wasn't nearly as scandalous as "My Girlfriend Is Too Fat," or "Christian Strippers," which are both actual episodes of his talk show. So if Montel needs to roll a fatty to treat his pain and depression, we're all for it. Just don't bring back "Children Who Molest Children." Nobody needs to see that show ever again.

Edie Falco

In 2003, the same year that Edie Falco was earning her Emmy for her role on The Sopranos, she was diagnosed and treated for Stage I breast cancer. She only revealed her health battle with one of the show's producers, who also happened to be a close friend, who helped arrange her shooting schedule around her treatments. In a 2015 interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Falco confessed to being notoriously private and not wanting to have to field sympathy or concern while she received treatment, which explains why she waited until five months after her remission status to issue a press release. We know that between playing Carmela Soprano and Jackie Peyton, Edie Falco has some grit, but to white knuckle secret cancer treatments through a difficult shooting schedule and to knock out an Emmy-winning performance to boot? That is one tough cookie right there.

Mila Kunis

In 2011, Mila Kunis revealed to Cosmopolitan that she had been blind in one eye for several years. After getting a lens replacement, her vision was fully restored, while Macaulay Culkin's self-esteem was simultaneously shattered. How does that make sense? Glad you asked. You see, Mila and Macaulay were together for years and just so happened to break up right around the time she was granted the ability to perfectly see his face. Of course there's no guaranteeing that one thing had anything to do with the other, but you have to admit, if you were Macaulay, you'd probably be avoiding the mirror for a while after that. Mila's since moved on to marry and conceive a child with Ashton Kutcher, so let's not act like her improved vision has translated to better decision-making in any way. In fact, we consider that little chain of events to be just salt in the wound for poor Kevin McCallister.

Pamela Anderson

Unlike the others on this list, Pamela Anderson's motive in revealing her secret health struggle seems somewhat less noble. In a press release, she alleged that she contracted Hepatitis C from her then-husband, Tommy Lee, when the two shared a needle while getting tattoos. The press release was issued while the pair was embroiled in an ugly custody dispute, which definitely makes the timing seem shrewd and callous. But who knows? Yes, she kept the secret for years without feeling the need to tell the public, but she was also dating Kid Rock when she issued the statement, so maybe she was looking to kill two birds with one stone. In one move, she could make the courts think Tommy Lee was an unfit father and scare off the loser who keeps his fedora on in bed. Regardless, at the time of this writing, Anderson recently announced she's been cured of Hep-C thanks to a new drug. Unfortunately for Kid Rock, there's still no cure for being a tool.