Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities' (2024)

  • Toni Braxton says she was told by her management to hide her lupus diagnosis.
  • "People get scared around sick celebrities," she said on Tuesday's episode of the"SHE MD" podcast.
  • The Lupus Foundation of Americaestimates that there are about 1.5 million Americans who have lupus.

Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities' (1)


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Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities' (2)

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Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities' (3)


Toni Braxton, 56, is speaking up about how her lupus diagnosis has impacted her life and career.

On an episode of the "SHE MD" podcast released on Tuesday, Braxton — who brought along her rheumatologist, Dr. Daniel Wallace — spoke to co-hosts Mary Alice Haney and OB-GYN Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi about her medical journey.

"I was told to hide I had lupus," Braxton said, adding that it was her management's idea. "I worked hard to hide it. For the longest time, I was ashamed, especially being a performer. I would make light of it."

Lupus is a chronic disease that occurs when a person's immune system attacks their healthy tissues. It can cause pain and inflammation in any part of the body.

Braxton, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2008, added that being upfront about her illness hurt her career.

"People get scared around sick celebrities," Braxton said. "You would not get work, because the second I told I had it, I didn't get work at first. No one wanted to put me on a stage. 'Well, suppose she collapsed onstage, and the insurance, how are we going to do that?' And so I couldn't, at first, I did not work."

The "Un-Break My Heart" singer shared that it ended up taking her almost 10 years to get a proper diagnosis.

"Lupus can be very challenging and difficult to diagnose because everything has to line up; it's almost like an eclipse," Braxton said. "And no one could find out what was wrong with me."


She added that she also developed chronic anxiety as a result of having her medical concerns dismissed.

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"I felt like a hypochondriac. Like I'm just telling people, 'I don't feel well,' and no one's listening," Braxton said. "And lupus doesn't have a look to it — not to say that other things do, but we always try to fake that we're feeling great or we don't want to worry anyone. As mothers and women, we tend to do that anyway."

In April 2023, Braxton told Today that lupus "attacked" her heart and that she had narrowly avoided a deadly heart attack because she decided not to skip her doctor's appointment.

Braxton isn't the only celebrity who has been candid about her struggles with lupus.


In 2017, Selena Gomez shared that she had to get a kidney transplant as a result of kidney failure due to lupus.

She first revealed her lupus diagnosis publicly in 2015, after rumors started circulating that she went to rehab for a drug addiction.

"I was diagnosed with lupus, and I've been through chemotherapy. That's what my break was really about. I could've had a stroke," Gomez told Billboard. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're assholes.' But I was angry I even felt the need to say that."

British musician Seal, who has scars on his face as a result of lesions caused by discoid lupus, told Yahoo Lifestyle in 2020 that he was first diagnosed with the condition when he was 21.


While initially conscious of his appearance, he eventually learned to accept how he looked.

"Something that had kind of been initially traumatizing turned out to be something that has made me instantly recognizable," Seal told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose. Since it can affect multiple body parts — such as the skin, lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and bones — it can cause many symptoms that are often mistaken for other diseases.

According to estimates from The Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 million Americans and at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus. Additionally, nine out of 10 adults with the condition are women.


A 2016 study found that a person with lupus spends about $33,223 a year on average as a result of direct healthcare costs, per The Lupus Foundation of America. The average productivity cost for a person with lupus — stemming from the hours of economic productivity lost due to the illness — was between $1,252 and $20,046 annually.

Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities' (2024)


Toni Braxton says she was told to hide her lupus diagnosis because 'people get scared around sick celebrities'? ›

The Grammy-winning singer and actress, 56, said she was told by her management to hide her diagnosis in the latest episode of women's health podcast SHE MD. "People get scared around sick celebrities," Braxton said. "And I couldn't get insured.

Does lupus progressively get worse? ›

Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent. Most people with lupus have mild disease characterized by episodes — called flares — when signs and symptoms get worse for a while, then improve or even disappear completely for a time.

What is the average age of lupus diagnosis? ›

Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44. People with lupus can experience significant symptoms, such as pain, extreme fatigue, hair loss, cognitive issues, and physical impairments that affect every facet of their lives.

Can you live with lupus and not know it? ›

Lupus can be hard to diagnose because it has many symptoms that are often mistaken for symptoms of other diseases. Many people have lupus for a while before they find out they have it.

How long can lupus go undetected? ›

However, in cases where symptoms are nonspecific, such as fatigue or occasional joint pain, or when symptoms mimic other conditions, lupus can go undiagnosed for several years. It's not unheard of for people to live with lupus for 5 to 10 years or even longer before receiving a definitive diagnosis.

What is the biggest indicator of lupus? ›

Anti-Smith Antibody Tests

The anti-Smith antibody, also known as the anti-Sm antibody, targets the body's own proteins and is found almost exclusively in people with lupus. Though not all people with lupus have this antibody, those who do usually receive a diagnosis of lupus.

Is lupus inherited from mother or father? ›

Lupus is not a hereditary condition. However, genetic factors play an important role in the condition, and certain inheritable genes may increase a person's risk of developing lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.

Does lupus make you gain weight? ›

Weight changes — Lupus can sometimes cause weight loss or weight gain. Weight loss may be unintentional and due to decreased appetite or problems with the digestive system (see 'Digestive system' below). It can also be a side effect of some medications used to treat lupus.

What is the hardest autoimmune disease to diagnose? ›

Some common autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 diabetes mellitus, are relatively easy to diagnose, while others, such as vasculitis, Addison's disease, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases, are more difficult.

Is Coffee bad for lupus? ›

Researchers of one study found that those with lupus who had a daily caffeine intake between 154 mg – 377 mg/day experienced a lower prevalence of “lupus nephritis, neuropsychiatric involvement, hematological manifestations, hypocomplementemia, and anti-DNA positivity.” These individuals also had lower blood levels of ...

Is lupus worse than MS? ›

In general, lupus does more generalized damage to your body than MS, which primarily damages the nervous system.

What is stage 4 lupus? ›

Class 4 involves damage to more than half of the glomerulus. A person will have high blood pressure. They may require dialysis as kidney function begins to worsen.

What is the sister disease to lupus? ›

Overview. Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) syndrome is a disorder of your immune system identified by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth. The condition often accompanies other immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

What is commonly misdiagnosed as lupus? ›

As a result, people with lupus are frequently misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, skin disorders, psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression or receive no answers at all.

Can lupus affect your eyes? ›

Lupus can affect many parts of your body, including the eyes. It can cause skin problems around the eye and dry eye — and side effects from lupus medicines can sometimes cause eye problems too. Although lupus doesn't usually cause serious vision loss, it can happen in rare cases.

What are the four stages of lupus? ›

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease with a wide range of clinical presentations resulting from its effect on multiple organ systems. There are four main types of lupus: neonatal, discoid, drug-induced, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the type that affects the majority of patients.

What are the signs that lupus is getting worse? ›

What are lupus flares?
  • Intensified symptoms.
  • Increased fatigue.
  • Rashes.
  • A headache or stomachache.
  • Pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fever.
Mar 8, 2023

What are the stages of lupus? ›

  • Class 1, or minimal mesangial lupus nephritis. ...
  • Class 2, or proliferative mesangial lupus nephritis. ...
  • Class 3, or focal lupus nephritis. ...
  • Class 4, or diffuse lupus nephritis. ...
  • Class 5, or membranous lupus nephritis. ...
  • Class 6, or advanced sclerosing lupus nephritis.
Oct 11, 2022

What happens when lupus progresses? ›

A 2021 review highlights that cancer, end-stage kidney disease, and infection can cause death as lupus progresses, although factors such as geographical location may affect this rate. However, treatment progression is significantly improving outcomes for people with lupus.


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