Kathleen Turner & RA

Actress Kathleen Turner (b. June 19, 1954) came to fame in the 1980′s after appearing in movies such as “Body Heat”, “Serial Mom”, “Romancing the Stone” (for which she won a Golden Globe Award), and “Prizzi’s Honor”.

Her rising career was halted in the 1990′s, however, when Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

There’s no question that something went terribly wrong for Ms. Turner, but she has over time expanded her explanation of exactly what it was. It’s clear that while shooting “Serial Mom” in 1993 (doing a John Waters film is almost a sure sign of career trauma) she began to suffer what she called “unbearable” pain. By the time she was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she could hardly turn her head or walk, and was told she would end up in a wheelchair. Treated with heavy steroids and chemotherapy, she started looking puffy and unsteady. Rumors began circulating that she was drinking too much. She later said in interviews that she didn’t bother correcting the rumors because people in show business hire drunks all the time, but not people who are sick. Keeping her condition a secret wasn’t easy; during the Broadway run of “Indiscretions” in 1995, she managed to walk up a spectacular three-story stairway in high heels at every performance, but needed five minutes alone at the top to cry. “Working, I could ignore the pain,” she said. “Offstage I couldn’t.” *

Kathleen Turner’s rheumatoid arthritis finally went into remission almost a decade later. The actress returned to making cameo appearances on television shows, and was most recently seen playing a small role in the movie “Marley & Me”.

Kathleen Turner

Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles
For the first time, Turner shares her childhood challenges-a life lived in countries around the world until her father, a State Department official whom she so admired, died suddenly when she was a teenager. She talks about her twenty year marriage, and why she and her husband recently separated, her close relationship with her daughter, her commitment to service, and how activism in controversial causes has bolstered her beliefs. And Turner reveals the pain and heartbreak of her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, and how, in spite of it, she made a daring decision: to take a break from the movies and relaunch her stage career. *

15 Comments
15 comments
  1. Cathy says:

    I remember early in my disease reading about Kathleen Turner and her experiences with Ra. Knowing a “star” had the same disease as me made me feel comforted somehow. I have been so happy to see her returning to show business.

  2. Katie says:

    where have I been? I didn’t know she had R.A. I always liked her before but this makes me like her more.

  3. Suzanne says:

    i read the book and liked it!! I love knowing others are out there, i made my husbnd who is super supportive read parts too…..

  4. Amanda says:

    I remember when the book came out and she went on the Today Show to promote it. I got a little teary because she started talking about her RA and a lot of the things she said were things I’ve said (and things I’ve read on blogs). I do need to go buy it.

  5. Rosella Calder Billar says:

    I was told about your condition. I also have RH but I am not being treated for it because of no insurance. They pain is unbearable. I am a 64 year old woman. I just want to sit in a corner and disappear from this world. I have no interest in anything because of the way I am.. I have grand kids that I love dearly but can not enjoy. I know you understand how it is but there are so many out there that have no idea what it is like…if you mention it to any one they always say yes dear I know how you feel my knees are bothering me….really ticks me off….well this is it my hands are too sore. I don’t know if you will ever get this but just knowing I am not alone helps….thank you

  6. dawnssister says:

    Did she really go into remission after 10 years or did she finally get on a DMARD? I would love to believe that remission is a possibility. My onset of severe RA was about 6 years ago when I was 53. DMARDS have made a big difference in my life but it is a far cry from remission
    They come with their own set of side effects and problems. This article demonstrates how she has had to cover up her condition in the interest of her career. It would be a real injustice to those of us who suffer from this awful disease if that is what she is doing by saying she is in remission.

  7. Beth says:

    I agree Dawnssister – what is the real story? I have seen the effects of my meds on my body and feel a bit displaced from it. A journey for sure.

  8. RA for 25 years says:

    I met Kathleen Turner and other people with RA at a educational event sponsored by Enbrel. Give her a break. It’s not true remission, but it certainly feels like it and people really do react differently when you admit you still have an illness, especially one as dibilitating as RA can be.

  9. Shirley says:

    I was in remission for seven years – no pain, moving easily, traveling, not taking any meds – and it was life as I knew it before RA. Then I had foot surgery and the trauma of it reactivated the RA and I eventually had to retire from my job. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be in remission again but I feel lucky to have had those seven years of pain-free living. My doctors agree that it was a remission.

  10. Alison Mitchell says:

    I, too was surprised when I learned that Ms. Turner had RA. Her sudden weight gain suddenly made sense to me because of the prednisone use. I’ve been there, and it left a lasting scar on my self esteem. I was diagnosed with RA/ lupus when I was 13, I am now 49. I’ve had both knees replaced, both hips replaced (one twice), 3 ankle fusions, a shoulder replacement, a broken femur, and 2 finger tip amputations. This is not a disease for light weights. I have never been truly in remission, the damage continues to occur, but my disease is fairly controlled. If you are recently diagnosed, talk to your doctor about the biologic drugs. I was told that if they had been around when I was first diagnosed, I would not have the kind of damage I have now. Taking massive doses of prednisone as a teenager made me look like a balloon on toothpicks, and even though I am on a very low dose of steroids now, I still see that fat faced teenager in the mirror. I’ve had a successful career as an interior architect, but I have terrible body image issues. I commend Kathleen and anyone who continues to plow through life, doing what she/ they love, in spite of a diblitating disease.

  11. Irish says:

    I am so very sorry to hear you are unable to enjoy your grand children, I do suffer with RA. and I most say. When I heard about Kathleen Turner I was helped so very much, you see I followed her in her time of mending and believe me she gave out the very very best of who she is, it is now 17 years for me and I did everything the Dr told me and the one that was the hardest was the night splints and cotton gloves all to keep my hands sparest and I can tell you I made it my hand are in good order, the main thing is you most do excess it is your best mendacion. I do hope this will help. Regards Irish

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