‘The Greatest Showman’ Star Keala Settle Opens Up About Having A Stroke During Rehearsal For The Oscars

During the 2018 Academy Awards, Keala Settle, who played the bearded lady in the hit musical The Greatest Showman, brought the audience to their feet with her performance of “This Is Me.” What many people watching the show didn’t know, however, was that a week prior, Settle suffered a mini-stroke while rehearsing for the ceremony.

Now, nearly a year later, she’s opening up about the rare disorder and what it was like dealing with all of this days before going onstage in front of the entire world.

After her mini-stroke, Settle lost motor function in half of her body. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare condition called Moyamoya disease—a “progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain in an area called the basal ganglia.”

Settle would later undergo a “10-hour double-bypass brain surgery” to fix the problem.

She says the medical scare was terrifying but has truly improved her outlook on life:

“It’s shifted me in ways I’m still understanding. The way that I look at the world is so completely different. I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been; I can find the joy in things I never could. This truly gave me another lease on life.”

Settle describes her physical condition leading up to the Oscars, coming off of a nonstop worldwide tour:

“I was completely rundown. I had gotten food poisoning in Tokyo, I was fighting a cold. I barely had anything left to give.”

On February 24, Settle became so stressed at a rehearsal for the following week’s Oscar ceremony that she had a panic attack while preparing.

“Collapsing into tears” among her fellow singers, Settle could tell something was wrong with her body:

“It was like someone cracked an egg on the top of my head and then drew a line on my body, turning one half off. My body started drooping immediately. I tried to put my hands up to my face, but I could only move my left arm. I couldn’t talk because part of my tongue was immobile. I tried to stand, but there was nothing. I was panicked. I let out this wail because I was so scared and the room went silent. All I could figure out how to say was ‘Help.’ “

Settle didn’t know it at the time, but she was suffering from a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a sort of mini-stroke that can often warn of bigger problems. About 20 minutes after the TIA was over, Settle regained her body’s functions, but the scare was enough to send her to the hospital, where doctors discovered her Moyamoya.

She described her body as a ticking time bomb:

“It could have happened at any time. It just so happened to happen a week before the biggest performance of my life.”

The singer decided to delay surgery until after her Oscars performance. Obviously, it went off without a hitch.

Fans were so glad to know the star is okay.

Now, Settle is determined to live every day to the fullest!

“The universe had its chance to take me and I’m still here. I’m just so grateful to be alive and I’m not giving that up.”

H/T – Entertainment Weekly, People