News & Research, Society

Migraine Publicity

There’s no better way to raise awareness of an illness than for famous people to have it. Until recently, famous migraineurs have been identified posthumously or, worse in the public eye, after their celebrity status has fallen to B- or C-list. Things are looking up. In addition to Marcia Cross being the spokesperson for Imitrex, actor Ben Affleck and football (aka soccer) player Fredrik Ljungberg have recently been identified as migraineurs.

While I admire Marcia Cross for being public about her illness, it’s easy to imagine a beautiful, dainty woman with a migraine. It’s totally different to think of strong, masculine men curled up in pain and vomiting. For convincing the general public of the severity of migraine, the men have the advantage of contradicting stereotypes.

Ben Affleck is a household name in the US. Whether or not you agree that he’s masculine, he is a Hollywood star, makes gobs of money and has a beautiful wife. That is, he’s living some version of the American dream. But fame and money can’t keep the stomach-wrenching and horrendous pain of a migraine at bay. (Although it probably does get him painkillers in the ER.)

More powerful is the stark contrast between Fredrik Ljungberg as a rugged, aggressive athlete and as a migraineur. As the World Cup approaches, fear of an attack is ever-present for the football star. One migraine and it’s aftermath, which he says lasts about 10 days, could take him — and his team — out of the tournament. Even a terrific athlete’s physical strength isn’t enough; he can’t “tough it out.”

4 thoughts on “Migraine Publicity”

  1. There are a few athletes who suffer from migraine headaches… Ron Artest, for example, has had to miss practices because of migraine.

    Quite a few former NFL players suffer from post-concussion migraine, including Troy Aikman of the Cowboys and Wayne Chrebet of the Jets.

    Thanks for info. Athletes with migraine do get a fair amount of mention. Mostly I see reports of rugby and football (in the international use of the word) players.

    There’s been interesting news recently about professional football (in the American sense of the word) players and the long-term damage the sport has on their brains.


  2. oh ugh–did you notice how they linked Ben Affleck’s migraine to “stress”?


    If only he’d learn to control his emotions, he’d be fine! 😉


  3. I believe there’s at least one major basketball player right now with migraines, (I think it’s actually 2 players from 2 different teams) but I don’t really follow basketball so I don’t recall his name–he’s in the news now and then as having to miss games due to being ill with a migraine.

    Gary Payton of the Miami Heat missed practice on Monday night because of a migraine. The only information on it I can find is a quote from his coach saying that he’ll be fine. He’ll be fine because this happens enough for the coach to know it will pass or fine because it’s just a headache? I’ll hope for the former.


  4. I can’t imagine having to play a sport with a migraine!

    Maybe the reason there aren’t more celebrities coming out about CDH is they wouldn’t be able to work if they had CDH, you know?

    Yeah, chronic pain exacerbated by movement a noise. Might as well be riding roller coasters at Magic Mountain.

    An athlete being sidelined by a migraine seems to me a testament of the agony of migraine. Professional athletes play through so much pain from injuries yet a “little headache” is enough to take them out of the game for days.

    Not being able to work is certainly a reason there aren’t more celebrities with CDH. I also think that there are some celebrities with headache disorders who cope by hiding it and ignoring it. Headaches would have less of an impact if you could pay someone to deal with the minutae of day-to-day life. Perhaps pretending you’re someone else helps too.


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