The Truth About The Illness Willow Pill From RuPaul's Drag Race Has

Willow Pill was a "RuPaul's Drag Race" fan favorite before Season 14 even really got going. As NBC News reported, after just a few episodes, the Chicago-based queen was already dominating online discourse alongside Kornbread "The Snack" Jeté and Kerri Colby. The difference between Pill and the others is she's still around and almost guaranteed to make top three, if not win the show outright — especially since fellow frontrunner Bosco's looks are raising eyebrows for all the wrong reasons.  

Although Pill acknowledged she wasn't expecting the deluge of ravenous fans that welcomed her arrival on the long-running reality show, the "Drag Race" star also opined that being different clearly means a lot to those watching at home, many of whom feel a unique kinship with her. Pill further enamored herself to viewers when she came out as trans, in an emotional post shared to Twitter. The Denver native admitted it had been a tough journey because her illness takes up most of her bandwidth. 

Pill has opened up on the show several times about being sick, and indeed her drag name refers to her condition too, so what exactly is the reality star dealing with on a daily basis?

Willow Pill suffers from a rare disease

In her coming out post, Willow Pill admitted, "My condition has caused me so much physical and emotional pain that my body became something I always wanted out of." She also acknowledged having "medical PTSD" from years of intensive treatment. Per Billboard, Pill suffers from cystinosis. The National Kidney Foundation defines the condition as a rare, but very serious illness that typically presents in early childhood but affects sufferers throughout their lives. 

"Cystinosis is a disease caused by an abnormal buildup of a certain amino acid called cystine," which "can affect many parts of the body ... including the eyes, muscles, brain, heart, white blood cells, thyroid, and pancreas," they explained. There's a variety of treatments available but, as Pill herself attested, they can take a serious toll on one's physical and mental health. During her "Meet the Queens" interview (via YouTube), for instance, Pill admitted she has to take more than 20 pills every day.

As the "Drag Race" star explained in her Twitter post, it's taken a long time to come to terms with not hating herself, given everything her body has been put through. Unpacking her medical trauma helped Pill realize she's transgender, as the queen told EW

The fan favorite knows she can't do drag forever

NBC News notes, in an interview with Willow Pill, that cystinosis can even cause kidney failure. The drag queen had a kidney transplant at the age of 14 and underwent dialysis, though it's likely she'll have to do so again at some stage. On sharing her story publicly, Pill explained, "I wanted to be completely honest because we don't always see people who are disabled and ill on TV but I wanted it to be a super honest reflection of how that actually feels," even if, as she acknowledged, it's not always the easiest thing to hear, or watch. 

Drag won't be her forever job simply because it can't be, so for the time being, Pill is giving it everything she's got. Even competing on "Drag Race" is difficult, particularly considering how much time queens have to get ready, since Pill frequently has issues with her hands. Although the Chicago-based performer admitted to Outfront magazine that she hadn't even considered the possibility of winning, if Pill does, she intends to use her platform to spread awareness alongside enjoying everything else that comes with being a crowned queen. 

Pill described doing drag as "a big form of healing," admitting, "I honestly think I had to do drag just to heal myself." Judging by how popular she is, the fan fave is healing a lot of people watching at home too.