While The Greatest Showman featured many notable compositions, “This Is Me” — sung by the film’s Bearded Lady actress, Keala Settle — gained the most attention, winning a Golden Globe award and scoring an Oscar nomination. However, one week before the 43-year-old actress poured her heart out in an emotional performance of the hit single at the Oscars, she had a stroke, Settle revealed to People.
Settle’s immune system was tiring out as she traveled non-stop on a worldwide promotional tour for The Greatest Showman. The stress culminated in Burbank, Calif. on Feb. 24 when the right side of her body went completely numb from a transient ischemic attack (which is similar to a mini-stroke).
The star was ultimately diagnosed with a rare cerebrovascular disorder called Moyamoya disease, learning that her brain had been blocked from proper blood flow and oxygen for years. She just happened to face the effects of it right before her giant televised award show performance, but decided to delay her double-bypass brain surgery until April and pushed forward to sing at the Oscars on March 4
While the disease will have Settle on medication for the rest of her life, she’s already back to performing having appeared on The Greatest Showman: Reimagined cover album as part of a Kesha–Missy Elliott collab. She is also set to be featured in Fox’s forthcoming live TV production of Rent, which airs Jan. 27).
“The way that I look at the world is so completely different,” she told People. “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.”
View Settle’s Oscars performance below.