Empowering Stories From 5 Female Celebrities Battling Lupus

Celebrities who live with or survived lupus serve as powerful inspirations as they demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity.

The entertainment industry shines its spotlight on celebrities’ tales of glamor and success, but behind their fame lie their stories of courageousness. These five female celebrities share their journey on battling lupus, an autoimmune disease, and sparked conversations and awareness about the condition. Their stories are not just personal struggles, but also became an avenue for advocacy and awareness. 

World Lupus Day is observed annually every May 10. More than five million people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders worldwide suffer under it. As these celebrities tell their stories, their unwavering determination to live normal lives with utmost resilience and faith continue to inspire.

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A brief rundown on lupus

The Lupus Foundation of America described the disease as “something goes wrong with the immune system.” Instead of fighting off infection, cancer, or other health concerns, it turns against the person and acts on their own organs. 

CNN reported symptoms include swelling, rashes, joint pain, mouth sores, and hair loss. The disease becomes more severe if inflammation spreads to the kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and the brain.

60 percent of people and two out of three children with lupus will likely develop kidney complications. Research indicated that Hispanics or people of color who fight against the disease have an even higher risk for this potentially fatal complication. 

Sally Hawkins

The Shape of Water star Sally Hawkins revealed in 2018 that she was suffering from lupus. The Guardian revealed it made it hard for her to travel and she would rather not discuss it.

According to Lupus Trust, Hawkins said she gets tired but she does not let the illness stop her. “I’ve been very lucky with it for the most part,” she recounted. “I’m not crippled with it, like some people. I just have to be aware and take it steady.”

Sally Hawkins says she does not let lupus stop her from doing her work
Sally Hawkins says she does not let lupus stop her from doing her work/Photo from IMDb

The English actress has received numerous accolades like a Golden Globe Award and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.

Kristen Johnston

Two-time Emmy winner Kristen Johnston revealed her battle with lupus in 2013, People reported. Back then, she beat alcohol addiction, but she knew something was wrong when she felt completely immobilized. 

She learned that she had a rare autoimmune disease after four months and 17 doctors. Johnston, in a post, disclosed she had a rare form of the illness: lupus myelitis.

Johnston worked as much as she could before the doctors supplied their final diagnosis, which she initially declined to identify. She took a two-episode break from her sitcom at the time and had co-star Leah Remini cover for her through a multi-episode arc. 

Kristen Johnston took a break from filming her sitcom upon finding out that she had lupus
Kristen Johnston took a break from filming her sitcom upon finding out that she had lupus/Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The actress explained she wanted to have a few weeks of privacy to navigate her diagnosis and receive treatment. She finally addressed the concern due to her break from filming. “I’m not on my deathbed… far from it,” she remarked. “I’m going to be fine.”

Toni Braxton

Award-winning singer-songwriter and actress Toni Braxton was first diagnosed with the condition in 2008. However, she shared in a SHE MD podcast that she was asked to hide the findings.

Podcast co-host ​​Dr. Thais Aliabadi asked who instructed her to hide her disease, and the actress simply said, “Management.” She clarified that it was because she was told people got scared around sick celebrities. “Nobody gets insured, and I couldn’t get insured,” she continued.

She discussed in the podcast that she visited “at least” six doctors before getting a final diagnosis. She didn’t receive it until she collapsed during a performance in Las Vegas.

Toni Braxton was instructed to hide her lupus diagnosis due to the stigma that came with it
Toni Braxton was instructed to hide her lupus diagnosis due to the stigma that came with it/Photo via Instagram @tonibraxton

Last year, Braxton opened up about having a traumatic heart procedure. She said 80 percent of the main artery in her heart was blocked. She expounded how scary the moment was, but she was grateful it did not result in a fatal heart attack. Had she not gotten the test, her life would’ve been different.

She imparted a message to people who are dealing with lupus. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing. It’s important that I pioneer and be an advocate. Tell other people about it and talk about my story, and hopefully, you can help someone.”

Selena Gomez

Only Murders In The Building star Selena Gomez got her diagnosis for lupus in 2013 as per Today. However, she revealed that she was battling the illness in 2015 with Billboard. She abruptly ended her 2013 tour to admit herself to a rehabilitation center to undergo treatment.

The actress-singer said she went through chemotherapy, and that was what her career break was about. She added she could have had a stroke. People mentioned that Gomez considered lupus to have side effects. These included anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. 

However, lupus did not stop her from her work. “I would get fevers, headaches, fatigue, but I always just kept going,” she commented. “I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health.”

Selena Gomez revealed she went through kidney transplant as she dauntlessly battled against lupus
Selena Gomez revealed she went through kidney transplant as she dauntlessly battled against lupus/Photo via Instagram @selenagomez

Last year, the actress revealed through Tik Tok that she’s taking medication for lupus. This causes her to hold a lot of water weight. “I would much rather be healthy and take care of myself,” she said, according to BBC. “My medications are important, and I believe that they’re what helps me.”

Gomez with her friend, Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney to the actress
Gomez with her friend, Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney to the actress/Photo via Instagram @selenagomez

Lady Gaga

“Poker Face” singer Lady Gaga does not have lupus, but in 2010 she announced she tested borderline positive for the disease.

The Lupus Foundation of America explained that doctors use the term “borderline lupus” when results suggest the disease but there is not enough information for a definite diagnosis. Some symptoms, like joint pain, can occur due to other causes and not solely to lupus itself. 

Lady Gaga tested "borderline positive" for the autoimmune disease
Lady Gaga tested “borderline positive” for the autoimmune disease/Photo via Instagram @ladygaga

Lady Gaga said lupus is in her family and it is genetic. She even explained, as stated by The Guardian, that her aunt died due to the disease. However, while she might not have it yet, she has to take good care of herself. 

CNN’s report indicated that there are no tests specific to lupus. Doctors must look for a combination of blood tests, medical history, and physical examinations to make an accurate conclusion.

Banner photo via Instagram @rarebeauty.

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