Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Shania Twain's vocal cord damage was due to disorder caused by tick-borne illness

Shania Twain contracted Lyme disease in 2003 and later realized that it had caused dysphonia, a disorder that affects the human vocal cords


                            Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Shania Twain's vocal cord damage was due to disorder caused by tick-borne illness
Shania Twain (Getty Images)

In 2017, Canadian country-pop star Shania Twain revealed she contracted Lyme disease in 2003 in Norfolk, Virginia joining many celebrities that have been suffering from the tick-borne illness.

She had recalled the moment that she realized she had been infected and had started to experience the symptoms quickly. “I saw a tick fall off me. I was on tour, so I almost fell off the stage every night. I was very, very dizzy and didn't know what was going on. It's just one of those things you don't suspect," said Twain in an interview with The Independent.

It was only later that the singer realized that the diseased had caused her dysphonia which is a disorder that affects the human vocal cords. In her 2011 documentary series titled, 'Why Not? With Shania Twain,' the singer chronicled her experience in trying to regain her voice.

The singer had lost her voice for several years and she took a fifteen-year break from performing as she suffered from vocal cord paralysis. In an interview with PEOPLE, Twain said, “When I realized that I could barely sing at all anymore, I was like, ‘I’m humiliating myself. I can’t get out there and do this. I have to stop until I figure it out.’ I thought that it was just fatigue or burnout. But no — Lyme disease commonly affects the nerves.” The singer had gone through open throat surgery to strengthen her vocal cords and came back to the singing scene in 2017 with 'Now', her fifth album, and her first in 15 years.

In 2019, Twain revealed a bit about her surgeries telling EXTRA, "I had to have an operation that was very intense and it's an open-throat operation, very different from a vocal cord operation… and I had to have two of them, so that was really, really, really tough and I survived that, meaning emotionally I survived, and am just ready to keep going.”

“It would have killed me not to be able to ever sing again. I wasn’t going to let my life be over if I wasn’t going to be able to sing again, but I would have been very sad and I would have mourned that forever. But it is a great love of mine and a passion — that’s what got me back on stage again because I could. Now I have more appreciation for it than ever," revealed the singer.

Turns out that although there might have been some permanent damage, Twain revealed how therapy has helped curb some obstacles. "What I've learned in the interim through therapy is how to manipulate my voice to get it to do what I want it to do or at least close enough that I... don't want to give up, so I’m willing, you know, you just gotta be willing and give in to change and you have to accept that you don't always have to be the same and that's what I have to do, and I'm embracing that," she revealed.

Twain also spoke of how one should proceed when they're infected pushing for education on the disease, “You have a very short window to catch it and then treat it and then even when you treat it, you could still very well be left with effects, which is what happened to me. Normally it can attack your nervous system or the vital organs — heart, liver, kidneys, nervous system. It's a debilitating disease and extremely dangerous. You can't play around with it, so you've got to check yourself for ticks," said Twain.

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and it brings an opportunity for Lyme patients, activists, and educators to share tips and open up about Lyme and tick-borne diseases. In this column, we highlight the struggles of celebrities and talk about preventive and cure measures.

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