Oprah Winfrey dealt with a serious health battle in secret, she revealed in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Speaking to DeGeneres, Winfrey — who is currently in the middle of relaunching her iconic book club with Apple —revealed that she returned from a trip abroad with what she thought was a cold. It turned out to be much more severe.
“I ended up in the emergency room, and they said, ‘You have pneumonia.’ And I go home with pneumonia, and pneumonia’s nothing to play with y’all,” Winfrey said on the show.
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. When not treated properly, it can cause major health complications, including death. In Winfrey’s case, the antibiotics prescribed by her doctor weren’t working, forcing her to seek a specialist.
“So I go into the lung specialist, and I say, ‘I’ve got a little rattling,’ and he puts the stethoscope [on my neck] and I see the ‘Oh shit’ face. It is like, ‘Oh, my, something’s wrong with you.’ I can see it, he didn’t hide it,” Winfrey said.
Fortunately, Winfrey took some time off to get well — a rare thing, she said, for her on-the-go lifestyle.
“I never cancel anything. I work all the time when I’m sick!” Winfrey said, revealing that the doctor instructed her not to fly for a month.
Following the ordeal, Winfrey said she received a clean bill of health but the experience completely “changed” how she sees wellness. She now encourages everyone to get their flu shot.
In 2018, Winfrey wrote in O Magazine about a different “health scare” in which she woke up one morning and found her neck was unusually swollen. Immediately fearing the worst, Winfrey called her doctor, who told her the issue was likely blocked salivary glands. Unlike her tricky battle with pneumonia, this cure was simple: Drink water, and suck on a lemon candy.
“Our bodies are amazing. And too often we are not grateful for their perfect functioning, balancing bacteria and enzymes, managing blood flow, thrumming the sinus rhythm beat, beat, beat of our hearts day in, day out,” wrote Winfrey in the magazine. “As they say, you don’t appreciate your health until you no longer have it.”