Home US Inside Shania Twain’s devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease: From being told she would never sing again to ‘regular blackouts’ and open throat surgery

Inside Shania Twain’s devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease: From being told she would never sing again to ‘regular blackouts’ and open throat surgery

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From fainting regularly to fearing she'll never sing again, the star has been candid about the obstacles she's faced, as well as the comeback that meant she could take to a stage once again (pictured in May).

Shania Twain is set to take to the iconic Pyramid Stage in Glastonbury on Sunday, June 30 after earning the coveted legends spot.

The 58-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter and queen of country pop has sold more than 100 million records, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.

However, her dizzying successes have also come with struggles, most notably a devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease.

From fainting regularly to fearing she’ll never sing again, the star has been candid about the obstacles she’s faced, as well as the comeback that meant she could take to the stage once again.

Here, MailOnline looks at the health crisis that left the country music legend ‘mourning’ his own voice.

From fainting regularly to fearing she’ll never sing again, the star has been candid about the obstacles she’s faced, as well as the comeback that meant she could take to a stage once again (pictured in May).

Shania Twain's dizzying successes have also come with struggles, most notably a devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease (pictured in 2022).

Shania Twain’s dizzying successes have also come with struggles, most notably a devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease (pictured in 2022).

How did Shania Twain get Lyme disease?

Shania contracted the tick-borne disease in 2003 after being bitten by a tick while horseback riding in a forest, just before going on tour.

The singer was experiencing symptoms while performing on Up! Tour, before he was diagnosed; At first, doctors couldn’t identify what was causing the problems.

Recalling the terrifying experience in her 2022 rock-doc Not Just a Girl, Shania said: ‘My symptoms were quite terrifying because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. She was losing her balance, I was afraid of falling off the stage.

“I was having these blackouts of very, very, very milliseconds, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds.”

Shania has previously spoken about how the effects of a tick bite can take some time to show up in blood tests and, when she received her diagnosis, her vocal cords were already damaged.

Shania contracted the tick-borne disease in 2003 after being bitten by a tick while horseback riding in a forest, just before going on tour (pictured in January 2022).

Shania contracted the tick-borne disease in 2003 after being bitten by a tick while horseback riding in a forest, just before going on tour (pictured in January 2022).

The singer was experiencing symptoms while performing on Up! Tour, before he was diagnosed: At first, doctors couldn't identify what was causing the problems (pictured in 2002)

The singer was experiencing symptoms while performing on Up! Tour, before he was diagnosed: At first, doctors couldn’t identify what was causing the problems (pictured in 2002)

Recalling the terrifying experience in her 2022 rock-doc Not Just a Girl, Shania said: 'My symptoms were quite terrifying because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. She was losing her balance, I was afraid of falling off the stage' (Pictured in 2004)

Recalling the terrifying experience in her 2022 rock-doc Not Just a Girl, Shania said: ‘My symptoms were quite terrifying because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. She was losing her balance, I was afraid of falling off the stage’ (Pictured in 2004)

The Canadian singer-songwriter and queen of country pop, 58, has sold more than 100 million records, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time (pictured in May).

The Canadian singer-songwriter and queen of country pop, 58, has sold more than 100 million records, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time (pictured in May).

What were the effects of Lyme disease on the singer?

Shania’s voice was damaged by the effects of dysphonia as a result of the disease. Dysphonia refers to having an abnormal voice, with alteration in its quality.

The star said: “It was devastating… I felt like I had no choice but to just accept it, in the sense that I would never sing again.” I was in mourning because of the expression in my voice.

She revealed that it was a “depressing” time where she thought she might not be able to go on stage again, so she put a lot of efforts into writing songs.

The That Don’t Impress Me Much hitmaker, who then spent “several years recovering her voice”, also confessed that looking back she thought she would never be able to release another album.

After relearning how to sing through physical therapy and vocal warm-ups, Shania released her album Now in 2017, which was her first in 15 years.

Shania eventually found a doctor who was able to help her by operating on her vocal cords, so she underwent open throat surgery in 2018, something she feared would further affect her singing abilities.

Appearing on the Graham Norton Show in February 2023, he reflected on the surgery.

The Queen of Country Pop explained: “The operation was very invasive and I have a big scar that I’m proud of.” I’m so happy to have a scar instead of no voice.

‘The surgery was a miracle and I am very grateful. Going back to a studio after the operation was a discovery and I was relearning my voice.’

Shania Twain revealed that it was

Shania Twain revealed that it was “depressing and devastating” when she thought she might not be able to sing again after contracting Lyme disease and undergoing open throat surgery.

Shania's voice was damaged by the effects of dysphonia as a result of the illness (9 pictured in 2007)

Shania’s voice was damaged by the effects of dysphonia as a result of the illness (9 pictured in 2007)

When did Shania Twain return?

Shania released her album Now in 2017, which was her first in 15 years.

Then, after her operation and after taking some time out of the spotlight to recover, Shania made her return to music, with a new deep tone to her voice, which she now believes is “a little sexy.”

Six years after her operation, the star released the album Queen Of Me in 2023, which she describes as “very happy, inspired and festive.”

She gushed, “These are songs that make me smile and laugh and want to dance and project me to where there is sunlight at the end of the tunnel.”

Following the album’s release last year, appearing on Lorriane, she said: “Now I feel very grateful to be able to sing and express myself.”

Shania Twain's dizzying successes have also come with struggles, most notably a devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease (pictured in March).

Shania Twain’s dizzying successes have also come with struggles, most notably a devastating 20-year health battle with Lyme disease (pictured in March).

Six years after her operation, the star released the album Queen Of Me in 2023, which she describes as

Six years after her operation, the star released the album Queen Of Me in 2023, which she describes as “very happy, inspired and festive.”

Posting a message to X, Shania wrote: 'The legend space at GLASTONBURY 2024: Another jewel in my crown!! I feel very honored and excited about this!'

Posting a message to X, Shania wrote: ‘The legend space at GLASTONBURY 2024: Another jewel in my crown!! I feel very honored and excited about this!’

He added: “Until I got to the bottom of why I was having trouble with my voice, there wasn’t much I could do about it.”

‘It took me a long time and I thought I would have to accept that at some point I would never be able to sing again.

“Thankfully I persevered and I’m making records again and playing gigs.”

Now, the superstar is set to perform at Glastonbury; she referred to being reserved for the legends position as an “honor” and a “commendation.”

WHAT IS LYME DISEASE?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.

The most common symptoms of the disease are fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash called erythema migrans.

The disease can usually be treated with several weeks of oral antibiotics.

But if left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, heart and nerve symptoms and be fatal.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE INFECTED?

During the first three to 30 days of infection, these symptoms may occur:

  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Erythema migrans (EM) rash

The rash occurs in about 80 percent of infected people.

It can expand up to 12 inches (30 cm), eventually clearing and giving off the appearance of a target or “bullseye.”

Later symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness.
  • Additional rashes
  • Arthritis with pain and swelling in the joints.
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy
  • heart palpitations
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Neuralgia

Source: CDC

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