Rudine Howard's 17-Year Battle with Anorexia

Aired on 09/28/1994 | CC
On a 1994 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Growing Pains actress Tracey Gold opened up about her struggle with anorexia, and provided guidance and support for Rudine Howard, who had been fighting her own 17-year battle with the eating disorder.

At age 29, Rudine weighed 58 pounds. She urgently wanted to get better, but she didn't know where to start. Rudine said that she was writing a book, and hoped to perform in a play in an effort to help motivate others suffering the devastating effects of anorexia.

However, Tracey pointed out to Rudine that she couldn't truly help others until she found a way to help herself. "You just start to nourish your brain so your brain can start to feel life again, and the life is so wonderful," Tracey said. "We are in control of our lives and our destiny. Only us."

Tracey urged her to start by taking small steps—like introducing bread into her diet—but Rudine broke down, unable to contemplate this kind of change. After living most of her life with anorexia, a different, healthier way of living seemed to be too much to conceive.

Tragically, Rudine ultimately succumbed to the disease two years later. Hopefully, Rudine's story can spread awareness of the serious dangers of anorexia to the millions of women who suffer from it, so that they might, like Tracey, find their way on the path to recovery.