As vibrant and stunning as she is, it’s hard to imagine R&B legend Toni Braxton being anything but full of health. However, in 2008, after collapsing during a performance, she was diagnosed as having Lupus, an incurable immune system disease. In recognition of World Lupus Awareness Day (10 May 2018), we shed light on the condition.
According to Lupus UK, the illness is “an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females.” A staggering 50,000 women in the UK suffer from the condition, which affects any part of the body, including skin, joints and organs. Crucially, people (again mostly women) of African-Caribbean and Asian descent are more likely to develop the condition more than white people.
Notoriously difficult to diagnose, symptoms vary hugely from one person to the next and can often be debilitating as in the case of British singer, actress and presenter, Kelle Bryan. Kelle described her symptoms in an interview with us last year, saying: “I remember waking up one morning and I couldn’t lift the index finger on my left hand, within a week my hand was fixed into a claw”.
So, what are the symptoms? As described by Lupus UK, the two major symptoms are “joint and muscle pain and an extreme tiredness that won’t go away no matter how much you rest.” In an article in HuffPost, Toni said:
“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.”
Other symptoms can include rashes, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, possible hair loss and mouth ulcers may all be part of the pattern of lupus. These signs can vary from person to person, and sadly, recurrent miscarriage is another unfortunate complication.
Much is still unknown about Lupus, but it’s clear that it’s due to genetic and environmental factors such as exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes, certain infections and smoking.
While there’s currently no cure for Lupus, sufferers can take medication and adjust their lifestyle to manage their symptoms. Some of these measures, according to NHS Choices include eating a healthy, balanced diet, taking Vitamin D supplements, getting lots of rest and trying relaxation techniques as stress exacerbates the symptoms. It’s also advisable to avoid the sun and use high factor sunscreen (available on prescription if you have Lupus).
So, having read about the importance of taking things easy and rest for people with Lupus, how does Ms Toni keep up, particularly as she has a fresh new album, Sex and Cigarettes to promote? In a recent interview on ITV’s Loose Women, Toni opened up about how she deals with the condition. “I pace my body. If I’m feeling a little fatigued I can take a break. I make sure I take my meds, I have a great doctor and I just take it one day at a time.”
“Sometimes when I’m on stage and it’s not a great day, there’ll be a lot of “YOU sing” [to the audience].
Find out more about the condition on Lupus UK website.