Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in various organs and can cause the body to attack its own tissues. According to The Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, around 1 in 2,000 people in the United States have it. These numbers include a slew of celebrities — like Selena Gomez — who have been open about their journey with the disease. Although there is no cure for lupus, many people with it live relatively healthy lives, while others suffer complications. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at some of the stars who have lupus and see what they've said about their health…
RELATED: Stars who've had Lyme disease
Selena Gomez first revealed her Lupus diagnosis in an interview with Billboard in 2015 while explaining why she took an extended break from Hollywood. "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. I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy'… I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again," she said. In a 2017 Instagram post, Selena revealed she'd undergone a kidney transplant due to the disease. Since then, the star has remained at the top of her game with hit singles, albums, production deals and a beauty brand.
RELATED: Famous people who've had COVID-19
Seal has battled discoid lupus erythematosus, a type of lupus involving only the skin, since he was young. Discoid lupus causes blistering, especially around the facial area, which can cause deep scarring when ruptured, though it can affect skin anywhere on the body. The Grammy-winning singer has long embraced the scars on his face despite rarely speaking out about living with the disease.
Paula Abdul has long battled lupus and has gone on to become one of the biggest activists in Hollywood fighting the disease. The star has credited her doctor with keeping her condition manageable and has also talked about living with the pain, which has previously gotten in the way of her dancing abilities. Paula has been a major supporter of Lupus LA to advocate for lupus awareness and research.
Toni Braxton was diagnosed with lupus in 2008. She opened up about her battle in 2011 on Twitter, writing, "Lupus medication actually causes most women to gain weight. But we're still fabulous! I'm going to work it on out." The singer has kept working despite her diagnosis, continuing to be monitored regularly while still recording and performing music. "Some days I can't balance it all," she told HuffPost Live in 2015. "I just have to lay in bed. Pretty much when you have lupus, you feel like you have the flu every day. But some days you get through it. But for me, if I'm not feeling well, I tend to tell my kids, 'Oh, mommy's just going to relax in bed today.' I kind of take it easy."
Nick Cannon announced he had Lupus in 2012 and in a statement at the time, the star revealed he's used it as motivation to stay busy. "It actually drives me. It was one of those things where, even when I first got sick, I told them to turn the cameras on… I wanted to document this process because I wanted to inspire others that may be dealing with this condition or a similar condition. To say, you don't have to let it stop you," he told HuffPost Live. Nick launched a documentary series that followed his life after the diagnosis and has since served as the grand marshal for the Lupus Foundation of America's Walk to End Lupus Now. "I have lupus, but lupus doesn't have me," he said in an interview with the Lupus Foundation. "I'm one of those people who wants to wave the flag and say, 'You can win this fight.'"
In 2010, Lady Gaga told TV broadcaster Larry King that she'd tested "borderline positive" for lupus and revealed that the disease runs in her family — her Aunt Joanne died from lupus complications. "Lupus is in my family, and it is genetic," she said. "The truth is I don't show any signs, any symptoms of lupus… So as of right now, I do not have it, but I have to take good care of myself." There is a higher risk for developing the disease when a relative has it, but it can lie dormant for any number of years.
Carrie Ann Inaba revealed in 2019 that she had only recently learned she had lupus after initially being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. "I was diagnosed with autoimmune six years ago, but my doctor didn't tell me I had lupus," she explained in a post on her official blog. "I was having a colonoscopy and I saw my chart [read] lupus and I was like, 'This is not my chart,' and they were like, 'You have lupus.'" The "Dancing With the Stars" judge has documented her journey with the disease on her blog, hoping to inspire others with her story. "I share mine because when I heard of how others had struggled through their own diagnosis and found their new normal, I felt so much less alone and not crazy," she wrote.
Kristen Johnston was diagnosed with lupus at 46 after consulting with 17 different doctors about the cause of her symptoms. The "3rd Rock From the Sun" actress has lupus myelitis, a rare form of lupus affecting the spinal cord, and received treatment with chemotherapy and steroids. She achieved remission six months later. "Every single day is a gift, and I don't take one second of it for granted," she told People in 2014.
Shannon Boxx was playing soccer for the U.S. National Team when she was diagnosed with lupus at 30. The Olympic gold medalist announced her diagnosis publicly in 2012 and began working with the Lupus Foundation of America to spread awareness of the disease. She told CNN that she would "will herself" through training sessions before finding the right medication to control her flare-ups. Lupus didn't stop Shannon from competing in two Olympic Games since finding out she had the disease. The athlete also told CNN that her key to surviving is having the right support system, saying, "I think it's important that you have someone who understands that you can feel good a majority of the time, but are there for you when a flare-up happens. I also believe it's important to stay active, whatever level of activity feels comfortable to you. I hope this is where I have inspired people. I haven't let this disease stop me from doing the sport that I love."
Actor Ray Walston was diagnosed with lupus in 1994 when he was 80. The two-time Emmy winner was best known for his work in TV hits such as "My Favorite Martian" and "Picket Fences" and movies like "The Sting" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." He slowed his career down after his diagnosis and unfortunately lost his life to the disease at 86 in 2001.
Terri Seymour has been battling lupus since she was a teenager. The "Extra" correspondent has said she endured excruciating pain and was on a number of medications to help. She told New You in 2016 that she considers herself lucky, explaining, "I was diagnosed with lupus within a year. My treatment program started very quickly. I did experience problems. I got peritonitis complications from lupus that nearly killed me, so it was tough, but fortunately I am now in remission. I am very grateful."
Trick Daddy has been dealing with discoid lupus — which was discovered after visiting the doctor to take care of what he thought were just severe skin issues — since 1998. The rapper first opened up about his health struggle in 2009, explaining to Vlad TV that he doesn't rely on Western medicine for treatment. "I stopped taking any medicine that they was giving me because for every medicine they gave me, I had to take a test or another medicine every 30 days or so to make sure that medicine wasn't causing side effects — dealing with kidney or liver failure," he said. The star has instead practiced his own diet and wellness routine to cope with the disease.
For many millennials, Mercedes Yvette was the first star they encountered who shared insight about the complications of lupus. The "America's Next Top Model" finalist initially kept her longtime battle with the disease a secret on the show before shocking the judges with the revelation mid-way through the competition. Mercedes has continued modeling since her 2004 run on the hit series and is now a spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation of America.
Charles Kuralt wasn't diagnosed with lupus until he was 62, years after retiring from a lengthy career as a TV journalist for CBS News. Charles' prestigious career was filled with accolades such as a Peabody Award and 10 Emmys. Sadly, just weeks after getting the diagnosis, the broadcast journalist died of heart disease, a common complication of lupus. It is worth noting that lupus is generally not a fatal disease, and most people with it have a normal lifespan.
Baseball player Tim Raines was diagnosed with lupus in 1999 while seeking medical attention for the severe fatigue he was experiencing on the field. The athlete had already played for more than two decades in the MLB before receiving the news. Tim's lupus had been attacking his kidneys, and he sat out the rest of that season to undergo treatment and recover. Despite the challenges of lupus, he still returned for an additional three baseball seasons. With a 23-year professional baseball career, Tim became one of only 29 players in history to date to have appeared in Major League games in four decades. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Actress Mary Elizabeth McDonough suffers from lupus, which she believes stems from leaking silicone from her breast implants. Mary — who's best known for her work on the TV hit "The Waltons" in the '70s and '80s — had enhancement surgery in 1984 and started feeling symptoms shortly after. She received a lupus diagnosis at 35 — 10 years after getting the implants. In 2017, she told Fox News, "Once I had my implants removed, I started to get better. My lupus is in remission. I still deal with fibromyalgia and arthritis… But, I'm … healthier. I'm way healthier than I was in my 30s… The further I get from those implants, the better I get."
Lupus doesn't just affect humans. In fact, the former first dog, springer spaniel Millie, might be the most famous animal that's had the disease. Millie — who belonged to the late President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush — lived to be 12 despite health complications. Like humans, dogs can lead healthy lives with lupus if they receive effective treatment.