“Extra’s” Tanika Ray sat down with Toni Braxton at Universal Studios Hollywood, where she opened up about her public battle with lupus.
At first, I tried not to let it bother me—a scratch here, a burning there—but before my first few weeks were over, I had an enormous red, scaly, hard rash literally from head to toe.
And it’s extremely scary to not know what each day will bring: Will I feel okay today? Will I make some monumental mess at work that can’t be fixed, such as sending someone to the wrong location, an hour away?
(Yes, that happened.)It was hard on my friends, too, as they couldn’t understand why I seemed totally fine one day and then needed to sleep all day the next, or couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs suddenly or couldn’t bear to eat. I had enjoyed being photographed all my life and dabbled in some minor modeling; all of a sudden, that same girl couldn’t even stand to look at her pale, emaciated body and puffed-up, steroid face. Eventually, with medication and meditation and moderation and all those lifestyle-friendly words, I was able to keep my lupus in check for eight years.
The signature problem with lupus is that it picks an organ or two and attacks it—your body responds to healthy cells as if they’re foreign invaders, making you sick when you weren’t in the first place.
Because the chronic inflammation caused by the disease can affect pretty much any organ, including skin, heart, lungs, and kidneys, as well as joints and blood cells, the symptoms mimic myriad other disorders, making it notoriously hard to diagnose.