Gena was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when a drug-induced disease left her whole body feel like it was burning. Norris wasn't the one to leave her alone in that condition.
To find a partner who would put everything at stake, including an amazing career, to be with their loved one full time is rare. Not many are blessed like Gena O'Kelly, 57. Wife of actor and martial artist Chuck Norris sure is lucky because Norris put his career on hold to be by his wife's side when she fell ill and needed support.
Parents to twins Danilee Kelly Norris and Dakota Alan Norris, 18, the pair have been together since 1998. The day they tied the knot and vowed to be with each other in sickness and in health, they truly meant it for life. Norris had to wait for nine years to find the love of his life after his divorce from ex-wife Dianne Holechek, to whom he was married for 30 years. They got divorced in 1988.
The Delta Force actor met O'Kelley, a supermodel and actor in Dallas, when he was on a date with another woman. But who can stop what's supposed to happen? The two saw the sparks fly between them and started dating, A year later they got married.
Age doesn't matter when it comes to true love. The couple proved this by balancing their relationship with love and respect that made the 23-years age gap immaterial. According to News.Amomama.com, Norris and O'Kelley appeared on an episode of Praise the Lord in 2011 as they're devout Christians. The supermodel also joined her husband's fitness show Total Gym as they both share the love for fitness. According to Howcelebsmet.com, Norris wanted to be his best for O'Kelly and said, "I'm trying to stay in good shape so we can one day celebrate 50 years of marriage."
Everything was rainbows and unicorns until 2013 when O'Kelly suddenly felt that there was something wrong with her health as she was suffering from pain in her nerves, as reported by Veryceleb. On consulting a doctor and going through MRI and other tests, O'Kelly was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. For a better quality of scans, she was injected with gadolinium, a chemical element as well as a heavy metal. Unfortunately, as per Newsweek, her body reacted with the injections that made her feel as if her body was burning.
No one had expected the Gadolinium to react in such a harsh way in O'Kelley's case. The element is usually used as a contrast agent for better medical scans. Norris was devasted to see his wife in pain and tried everything he could to make her feel better. The Express UK quoted him saying, "I’ve given up my film career to concentrate on Gena, my whole life right now is about keeping her alive. I believe this issue is so important."
The actor's wife had been injected with gadolinium, leaving her in extreme pain as if her body was "on fire." Explaining her painful condition, O'Kelly said, "[It was] as if acid had been passed through it. The burning was isolated at first, but it just kept spreading. Before this, I was a vibrant person. In fact, I’d say my health and fitness levels would have put me in the top 10% of people in the world back then."
Even after repeated complaints, the doctors refused to believe that she was suffering from gadolinium toxicity. They said it was impossible until she was moved to a clinic in Nevada who found the root of the problem immediately. Narrating how Norris never left her side during the entire ordeal, she said, "I just lay in bed on an IV for five months and had to have round-the-clock nursing care. Chuck slept beside me on the couch and never left. I prayed that I would live to raise my children."
"It’s infuriating and heartbreaking—it’s a vicious, ugly secret that has been kept hidden—something Chuck and I are determined to change," she added.
Five years after the scans were done, the couple ended up suing 3 different companies accusing them of damage worth $10 million. According to Newsweek, Norris and O'Kelly claimed that the gadolinium injections that were given to her under treatment caused her to suffer from gadolinium deposition disease.
The expert committee could not find enough evidence to prove the chemical element to be harmful to those whose kidneys function well. However, the European Medicines Agency looked into the matter and the claim and took three gadolinium-based contrasts off the market, claiming it to be a precautionary move.