Tina Turner’s Health: Her Cancer Battle, Stroke & Kidney Disease Before She Died

Tina Turner, who died in May 2023 at the age of 83, juggled several health issues in her last decade of life. Learn about her various conditions here.

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Tina Turner
View gallery
Image Credit: David Fisher/Shutterstock

  • Music legend Tina Turner’s first medical emergency came in 2013 when she suffered a stroke
  • In the years leading up to her death, she struggled with cancer, kidney failure, and more
  • Tina died at the age of 83 on May 24, 2023 after ‘a long illness’, her family announced

“The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Tina Turner died on May 24, 2023 at the age of 83. Although her death news shocked fans and her fellow celebrities alike, Tina had been quietly struggling with her health for quite some time, which her family alluded to in their death announcement. “Tina Turner, the ‘Queen of Rock’n Roll’ has died peacefully today at the age of 83 after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,” the statement read. “With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model.”

During the last years of her life, Tina reportedly suffered from a stroke and struggled with kidney disease and other illnesses. She was also diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016. Despite her various health obstacles, her representative confirmed to the Daily Mail on May 25, 2023 — one day after her death —that she died from “natural causes.” Read on to learn about music legend Tina turner’s health before she died.

Tina Turner
Tina Turner rose to fame in the 1960s as a rhythm-and-blues duo with her then-husband, Ike Turner. She then enjoyed a phenomenally successful solo career (Photo: David Fisher/Shutterstock)

Tina Turner Diagnosed With A Stroke, Cancer, And Then Kidney Disease


The Grammy Award-winning singer recalled her experience of having a stroke in her 2018 memoir titled My Love Story. The scary situation occurred in Oct. 2013, just weeks after she married her longtime partner, German music executive Erwin Bach. “I woke up suddenly and in a panic. A lightning bolt struck my head and my right leg — at least that’s how it felt — and I had a funny sensation in my mouth that made it difficult for me to call out to Erwin for help,” she penned. “I suspected it wasn’t good, but it was worse than I ever imagined. I was having a stroke.”

Tina lost her ability to walk following her stroke, which she called a mortifying moment in her life. “I was too embarrassed to call for help. Legs for days and muscles of steel from dancing, but I didn’t have the strength to get up. Terrified, I dragged myself over to a sofa, all the while thinking that I couldn’t imagine Tina Turner paralyzed,” she vividly remembered. “I doubted that I would ever be able to wear high heels again, let alone dance in them.”  Tina regained mobility after her 10-day stay in the hospital.


Tina was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 — three years after her stroke. She underwent surgery to remove cancerous polyps from her intestine, and the surgery was successful. Unfortunately, that was not the end of her health issues.

Kidney Failure And Transplant

Tina Turner and Erwin Bach
Tina Turner and Erwin Bach were together for nearly three decades before they tied the knot (Photo: Mimmo Carriero/Shutterstock)

Tina decided to treat her cancer without mainstream medical help, but that proved to only make her health worse: She ended up with a failing kidney. “The consequences of my ignorance ended up being a matter of life and death,” she bluntly wrote in My Love Story. However, she noted that she had one bright light throughout her struggles: her husband.

“At this terrible moment of guilt and self-recrimination, I learned something wonderful about Erwin. He never reproached me for my mistake,” she happily remembered. “Instead, he was loyal, kind and understanding — and determined to help me get through all this alive.”

Erwin ended up donating his kidney to the music icon, but in her memoir, she admitted that she was nervous the life-saving gesture wouldn’t be enough to show that they really were together for love. “Incredibly, considering how long we had been together, there were still people who wanted to believe that Erwin married me for my money and fame,” she said. “What else would a younger man want with an older woman? Erwin always ignored the rumors.” Erwin and Tina had been together since 1985, and it was basically love at first sight.

Tina Turner performs in 1985, the same year she met her future husband (Photo: Shutterstock)
Tina Turner performs in 1985, the same year she met her future husband (Photo: Shutterstock)

Tina underwent her kidney transplant in 2017, although she did have some symptoms following it such as “dizziness, forgetfulness, anxiety and the occasional bout of insane diarrhea,” which she discussed in her book. She also had intense bouts of vertigo, which she described as an “unnerving and frightening” disorder.

Tina encouraged others to take care of their kidneys in a March 2023 Instagram post. “My kidneys are victims of my not realising that my high blood pressure should have been treated with conventional medicine. I have put myself in great danger by refusing to face the reality that I need daily, lifelong therapy with medication. For far too long I believed that my body was an untouchable and indestructible bastion,” she wrote on World Kidney Day, as seen here. “Let’s show our kidneys some love!” she concluded.

Mental Health Struggles

Like so many others, Tina struggled with mental health — specifically during her abusive first marriage to Ike Turner. Before she was able to break free from the relationship, Tina even tried to take her own life. “I chose death, and I chose it honestly,” she candidly penned. “I was unhappy when I woke up. But I never tried it again because I made an important realization, one that changed the course of my life. I came out of the darkness believing I was meant to survive. I was here for a reason.”

Tina Turner performing
Tina Turner is one of the most successful female solo acts of all time and a two-time Hall of Fame inductee (Photo: Andre Csillag/Shutterstock)

What Is Intestinal Cancer And Kidney Failure?

Intestinal cancer is a rare form of cancer found in the small intestine, per Verywell Health. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, severe abdominal cramps, bloody stools, a lump in the abdomen, and sudden weight loss. Tina revealed in My Love Story that her cancer was found after she had diarrhea for months.

Kidney failure occurs when one or both of a person’s kidneys can no longer work on their own. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and acute kidney injuries can cause kidney failure, per Cleveland Clinic. People with kidney failure can suffer from fatigue, nausea and vomiting, memory issues, and more.

A stroke occurs when “blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients,” according to Mayo Clinic.

How Long Was Tina Sick?

Tina had been dealing with a multitude of health issues for a decade before her death. In her memoir, the singer said that although she had overcome cancer and kidney failure, she knew she wasn’t in the clear completely. “I know that my medical adventure is far from over. But I’m still here — we’re still here, closer than we ever imagined,” Tina wrote, speaking of her and her beloved Erwin. “I can look back and understand why my karma was the way it was. Good came out of bad. Joy came out of pain. And I have never been so completely happy as I am today.”