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article imageMissy Elliott announces she is battling Graves' disease

By Abigail Prendergast     Jun 27, 2011 in Entertainment
Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known to music fans as rapper Missy Elliott, has been diagnosed with Graves' disease, also called hyperthyroidism.
For three years the public heard nothing about rap superstar, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott. The hip-hop artist who has also won awards for record production just recently came out of her recluse and confessed to the media that she is and has been in combat with the thyroid condition known as Graves' disease since 2008. The chronic ailment is an autoimmune illness where the large endocrine gland overproduces the thyroid hormone. This is a severe metabolic imbalance known as hyperthyroidism.
The disease, named after Dr. Robert J. Graves, is the leading source of hyperthyroidism in children and teenagers. And the 39-year-old Elliott has in no way been spared from the dramatic toll it takes on those it affects. She explained to People magazine that due to the anxiety it imposed on her, doing even mundane, everyday tasks was an incredible challenge. When it came driving, she said "I was trying to put my foot down on the brake, but my leg was jumping. I couldn't keep the brake down and almost crashed."
The artist who burst out onto the scene in the 1990s and is known for hit singles such as "Hot Boyz," "Get Ur Freak On" and "Work It" went on to discuss that "I couldn't write because my nervous system was so bad - I couldn't even use a pen."
In addition to the physical torment Elliott has had to endure, her emotional make-up fell into a state of disrepair as well. She was forced to put up with mood swings and lost her hair while receiving radiation treatment for her hyperthyroidism. No cure for Graves' disease has been discovered yet, however with early detection - something Elliott was fortunate enough to have - the illness is able to be managed to such a degree in order for those who carry it to live as conventional of a life as they can.
Even so, the overall health of people with it is potentially subject to deterioration over time. Elliott continued in her statement that "I'm 30 pounds lighter because I've been exercising. My thyroid is functioning, so I haven't had to take medication in about nine months. [But] you live with it for the rest of your life."
The illness also plagued the United States' 35th president, John F. Kennedy, and statistics indicate that roughly 25-30 percent of people suffering from Graves' disease will subsequently develop an eye protrusion known as Graves' ophthalmopathy somewhere down the road.
When it is all said and done, Missy Elliott is not letting her ailment deter her from doing what she loves to do: make music. She is planning on producing a comeback album with the assistance from rapper and fellow producer, Timbaland.
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