TheRoot.com, By Angela Johnson, Posted November 17th 2023
The Root caught up with the R&B diva about her campaign to encourage people living with lupus to be advocates for their health.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans live with lupus, a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cell tissue. The disease can affect many parts of the body, including the heart, brain and lungs. But when it attacks the kidneys, it’s called lupus nephritis and comes with a three-time greater risk of death and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Lupus nephritis is of particular concern for women of color. Black and Asian women are four times more likely than white women to develop it. Hispanic and Native American women are twice as likely.
The Root caught up with singer, songwriter and actress Toni Braxton, who has been living with lupus for 15 years, about why she’s lending her voice to Aurinia’s Get Uncomfortable campaign to encourage people with lupus and lupus nephritis to monitor their kidney health with regular urine and blood tests.
Before her 2008 lupus diagnosis, Braxton said she experienced a series of health complications that left her doctors scratching their heads.
“My body was just not doing what it normally would do. I remember feeling chronically fatigued. And I remember the doctors seeing that something was going on. They just couldn’t figure it out,” she said.
Braxton said the medication her doctors prescribed gave her some relief, but masked any symptoms of lupus. And it was only with persistent testing and what she called a “perfect alignment” of her symptoms that doctors were able to identify the problem.
Since her diagnosis, the GRAMMY winner has made adjustments to her diet and work schedule and visits her rheumatologist at least every three months to monitor her kidney function. The visits come with regular tests to check for higher than normal levels of protein in her urine and blood tests to see how well her kidneys are filtering blood.
And now she wants to pay it forward. By lending her voice to Aurinia’s Get Uncomfortable campaign, she’s encouraging others living with lupus and lupus nephritis to advocate for their health by scheduling regular doctor visits. And although peeing in a cup and being poked with needles are Braxton’s “least favorite things to do,” says she’s learned to embrace those uncomfortable moments that could potentially save her life.
“Peeing in a cup sucks, but kidney failure is way worse,” she said.