Wendy Williams releases 1st statement since aphasia, dementia diagnosis

Wendy Williams, the former talk show host who’s been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, released a statement for her fans a day after her illness became public. 

"I want to say I have immense gratitude for the love and kind words I have received after sharing my diagnosis of Aphasia and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). Let me say, wow! Your response has been overwhelming," 59-year-old Williams said in a statement released through a representative for her care team. "The messages shared with me have touched me, reminding me of the power of unity and the need for compassion.  I hope that others with FTD may benefit from my story.

"I want to also thank the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration for their kind words of support and their extraordinary efforts to raise awareness of FTD," Williams added. "I continue to need personal space and peace to thrive. Please just know that your positivity and encouragement are deeply appreciated." 

Williams’ care team announced her diagnosis Thursday, noting that the conditions "have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life" and have behavioral and cognitive impacts.

Wendy Williams Lifetime documentary

 The two-part Lifetime documentary "Where is Wendy Williams?" will air this weekend. 

Williams' temporary legal guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, filed a lawsuit under seal against A&E Thursday to try and stop its release, USA Today reported. A Lifetime network rep. told Fox News Digital that they appeared in court and will air "Where is Wendy Williams?" as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. 


Wendy Williams attends Daniels Leather Fashion Show featuring Dame Dash at Harbor New York City on February 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

According to a People magazine cover story, the Lifetime documentary crew started filming Williams’ comeback in 2022, but they reportedly stopped filming in April 2023 when she entered a facility to treat "cognitive issues." Her son says in the documentary her health problems stemmed from alcohol use, People reports. 

Family members told People magazine that they don’t know where Williams is and they’re unable to contact her, but she can call them. 

What is frontotemporal dementia? 

Frontotemporal dementia is a rare disease that affects parts of the brain controlling behavior and language. These parts of the brain shrink as the disease gets worse.

It’s the same form of dementia that actor Bruce Willis has

The disease often involves primary progressive aphasia, which causes problems with language and leaves people struggling to find words or understand a conversation. 

RELATED: Bruce Willis is relatively 'incommunicative,' 'not totally verbal' after dementia diagnosis, friend reveals

The association describes frontotemporal degeneration as "an inevitable decline in functioning," with an average life expectancy of seven to 13 years after the onset of symptoms.

FTD usually occurs in people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s. It can affect a person’s personality, causing a loss of inhibition or inappropriate behavior. It is sometimes mistaken for depression or bipolar disorder, and can take years to diagnose.

Williams said in 2018 that she had been diagnosed years before with Graves’ disease, which leads to the overproduction of thyroid hormones and can cause wide-ranging symptoms that can affect overall health. 

Williams’ care team said she was diagnosed with FTD in 2023. 

Why did Wendy Williams’ show end? 

The Wendy Williams show first aired in 2008 after Williams transitioned from a successful stint as a radio host. She was known for her signature phrase, "How you doin’?" and her hot takes on celebrity gossip. 

The talk show ended in 2022 because of Williams’ health issues. Sherri Shepherd, who filled in for Williams as a guest host, received her own show.

The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this report.