Wendy Williams diagnosed with same form of dementia as Bruce Willis

Wendy Williams, the former talk show host and media personality, has been diagnosed with the same form of dementia that actor Bruce Willis has, according to a statement released by her care team on Thursday.

Williams, 59, has primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which are rare and incurable brain disorders that affect behavior, language, and cognition.

The statement said that Williams’ diagnoses “have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life” and have impacted her trademark sense of humor and her ability to communicate. “Wendy is still able to do many things for herself. Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed. She is appreciative of the many kind thoughts and good wishes being sent her way,” the statement read.

Williams’ health condition was revealed a day before a Lifetime documentary about her life, titled “Wendy Williams: What a Mess!”, is set to air on Saturday. The documentary, which began filming in 2022, chronicles Williams’ rise to fame, her struggles with addiction, her divorce from Kevin Hunter, and her health issues, including a thyroid disorder, Graves’ disease, and lymphoma. The documentary also features interviews with Williams’ family, friends, and colleagues, who share their concerns and hopes for her recovery.

According to People magazine, Williams’ family has not been able to see her or contact her directly, as she is under a court-appointed legal guardianship. The only person who has access to her is her guardian, who has not been identified. Williams’ sister, Wanda, told People that the family is frustrated and heartbroken by the situation. “The people who love her cannot see her,” Wanda said. “I think the big (question) is: How the hell did we get here?”

FTD is a group of brain diseases that cause degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for personality, behavior, and language. FTD is the most common cause of dementia in people under 60, affecting about 50,000 to 60,000 people in the U.S., according to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD). There is no cure or treatment for FTD, and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is seven to 13 years.

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a subtype of FTD that affects the ability to speak and understand language. People with PPA may have difficulty finding words, expressing themselves, or comprehending what others are saying. PPA can also affect reading, writing, and spelling skills. PPA can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke, but it has different patterns of brain atrophy and different symptoms.

Bruce Willis, the star of “Die Hard” and other action movies, was diagnosed with PPA and FTD in February 2023, according to a statement posted by his family on the AFTD website. Willis, 68, has been living with his wife, Emma Heming, and their two young daughters in Idaho, where he receives care and support from his loved ones. His family said that Willis is “brave, resilient, and inspiring” and that they are “grateful for the outpouring of love and compassion” from his fans and friends.

Williams and Willis are among the celebrities who have brought awareness and attention to FTD and PPA, which are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The AFTD, which is the leading organization for FTD research, advocacy, and support, said that it hopes that their stories will inspire more people to learn about these diseases and to join the fight for a cure. “We are honored to stand with Wendy Williams, Bruce Willis, and their families, as well as all those facing FTD, as we work to end this disease,” the AFTD said in a statement.

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