Elizabeth Taylor: Star was ‘seriously ill’ for most of her life – from cancer to pneumonia

ELIZABETH TAYLOR was the child actress who became known as one of the most popular stars in Hollywood. Having had a hugely successful career, Taylor also became known for having a long history of ill health before her death in 2011 at the age of 79. Over the years, the Academy Award winner suffered from a brain tumour, skin cancer and pneumonia, amongst other illnesses.

Towards the end of her life, Taylor was hospitalised, where she was being treated for heart problems. On March, 23 2011 the star sadly passed away due to congestive heart failure, but with an extensive health history, what should be remembered more is the amount of illnesses and conditions she overcame. Trouble with her health started when Taylor was born with scoliosis – a curvature of the spine – which was responsible for her chronic back pain. At the age of 21 the star was then nearly blinded due to a rusty splinter lodging itself in her eye on the set of the 1953 film Elephant Walk. Yet these health conditions were seemingly nothing compared to what lay ahead for the actress.

“My body’s a real mess,” the star admitted in a 2004 interview, aged 72, speaking about her scoliosis.

“I’ve become one of those poor little women who’s bent sideways. I feel so stupid and feeble that I can’t do the work I was meant to do because of my bloody body.”

Then in 1961, the actress contracted pneumonia. The first of three life-threatening infections with the same condition. After first being diagnosed with the condition – which inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs – Taylor was given an emergency tracheotomy.

The procedure, also known as a tracheostomy involves creating an opening at the front of the neck so a tube can be inserted into the windpipe to help an individual breathe. If necessary this tube can be connected to a permanent oxygen supply and help to rid any fluid that builds up.

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor: The star faced numerous health challenges during her lifetime including cancer (Image: Getty)

“I was pronounced dead four times, so they could give me anything, just to see if they could make me breathe,” Taylor later told Larry King about the incident in 2006.

Then in 1990, Taylor spent time in an intensive care unit in Los Angeles after developing the infection once more. Despite being first checked into the hospital with a sinus condition and fever, the star ended up “seriously ill”.

Soon after getting over her first bout of pneumonia, Taylor was given the devastating news that she had a benign brain tumour. Before medics realised the tumour existed the star suffered from both a seizure and a stroke -both potentially life-threatening conditions on their own.

Although a benign brain tumour is non-cancerous, the existence of the tumour can cause severe symptoms and effects on the body. If a tumour is especially fast-growing, symptoms can include:

New, persistent headaches
Seizures (epileptic fits)
Feeling sick all the time, being sick, and drowsiness
Mental or behavioural changes, such as changes in personality
Weakness or paralysis, vision problems, or speech problems.

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