Louisa May Alcott


Louisa May Alcott is probably best known for her classic novel, “Little Women”. But it was the rash on her face in a 19th century portrait that intrigued Dr Ian Greaves of the University of Minnesota. Greaves suspected that it held the key to a medical mystery. He and a colleague think they finally diagnosed the problem, 119 years after Alcott’s death.

In a scientific paper, Greaves and Dr. Norbert Hirschhorn suggest Alcott had lupus when she wrote most of her books. The clues, they conclude, all seem to fit, down to the distinctive rash on her cheeks and nose. If true, the diagnosis would have come as a shock to Alcott, who thought that her varied aches and pains were due to mercury poisoning or, more poetically, that she was simply ‘suffering for her art’. Alcott died of a stroke in 1888 at age 55.Two months earlier, she wrote: “I look about 70, grey & wrinkled & bent & lame.

Tichina Arnold

tichina arnold.jpg

Tichina Arnold is an American actress, comedian and singer. She began her career as a child actor, appearing in Little Shop of Horrors and How I Got into College. She also played the family matriarch Rochelle on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and has appeared in many films such as Big Mommas House.

Tichina’s sister, Zenay, has seven autoimmune disorders, lupus being one of the more ferocious diseases. Zenay was told she would be in a wheelchair by now (she’s not). That she would lose her hair from chemo treatments (she didn’t). That the fatigue associated with lupus would not allow her to work full time (she does). Zenay considers herself a walking miracle, and as a result, the Arnold sisters now strive to give back to others who have been stricken with lupus and other related illnesses.

The #ArnoldSisters – as they frequently hashtag their dynamic duo on social media – created the We Win Foundation to bring awareness to lupus and to help people become lupus survivors like Zenay, who’s been living with it for over 10 years.

N'Deaye Ba

Actress N'Deaye Ba hid a tragic secret from cast members while filming ITV’s drama ‘Jericho’ - she was suffering from systemic lupus. N'Deaye's condition deteriorated shortly after filming of the drama ended and she was admitted to Guys Hospital, where she spent her last 4 months showing exceptional courage.

She died (aged just 32) from septicemia and kidney failure on April 20 2005 at 1.32pm - exactly the same time of day as she was born. But colleagues and friends only learned of N'Deaye's illness when her mother Christina Ba-Johansson telephoned to say she had died.

Backstreet Boys

Howie Dorough

"A little over three years ago my sister Caroline died of lupus," says Howie. "After the funeral, the band was supposed to do a big concert in South America. Everyone was telling me I should go, that Caroline would have wanted me to go because she loved our music and was so proud that I was doing what I loved." So three hours after burying his sister, Howie was on a flight to South America.

"And that's when it hit me — how fragile life is and I just lost it," he says. "I realized that we get so caught up in our jobs and forget about the important things. The Backstreet Boys don't matter at all if you don't have your health. Your health and your family are everything." The long flight left Howie with plenty of time to reflect on his sister's life and the pain he felt over her passing.

"There are five kids in my family. I'm the baby. My sister Caroline was 12 years older than me, so she was always my babysitter — we were very close," recalls Howie. "Then Caroline came to us and told us she had lupus. Caroline just thought of it like diabetes, that it was something she had to deal with, but nothing was going to hold her back." But after her first child was born the lupus got worse.

Despite the setback, Caroline still wanted to have another child. Two miscarriages followed. Her second child was born four months premature with cerebral palsy. And her lupus worsened.

Howie says his long flight to South America was made all the more difficult because he was unable to say goodbye to Caroline before she died.

"I've struggled with that a lot," admits Howie. "It happened so fast. It was September of 1998. We were celebrating winning our first MTV award and my dad called my brother John to let him know Caroline was in the hospital. He told my brother not to tell me but I could tell something was wrong and I dragged it out of him."

Howie told his tour manager that he was going to have to miss the next show and left immediately to be by Caroline's side.

"But I missed my flight by 10 minutes," says Howie. "By the time I got to the hospital the doctor was trying to resuscitate her, but we lost her. I felt so terrible that I hadn't been able to say goodbye to her. I just couldn't stop thinking about missing that first flight."

In Caroline's honor, Howie and his family started the Dorough Lupus Foundation to support lupus research and treatment throughout the world.


Beethoven — It was suspected that Beethoven had lupus. The following was written about him: “Beethoven may well have had the specific form of immunopathic disease known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which typically commences in early adult life with a fever accompanied by mental confusion. Typical symptoms are destructive rash ('lupus') and redness ('erythema') of the butterfly area of the face. Any of the immunopathic disorders may occur, notably colitis. The excellent life-mask of 1812 shows an elongated atrophic scar particularly suggestive of Lupus. The portraits clearly show flushing of the cheekbones and nose. Beethoven's high colour was frequently commented on and may have aroused suspicions of heavy drinking”. Larkin, 1970

Shannon Boxx

Shannon Boxx was diagnosed with lupus in 2007 when she was 30 years old. At the time she was playing for the U.S. National Soccer Team and had begun feeling extremely fatigued; regular training sessions left her with joint pain and muscle soreness. 

She went public with her lupus diagnosis in April 2012 and is now working with the Lupus Foundation of America to create awareness about this chronic autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. Shannon took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Toni Braxton

Singer Toni Braxton announced she has lupus.

While accepting a Women in Achievement award at the 8th Annual Lupus LA Bag Ladies Luncheon, she told the audience:

“Today I’m going to talk about it because I’m a survivor and I’m here, and I don’t want to lose hope. Take a look — this is what lupus looks like.”

Toni then took to Twitter to share with fans and well-wishers that she feels a “relief” after coming forward.

Fortunately, Toni has many supporters – including the likes of Lady GaGa.

Billboard reports that in an ad placed the program for the luncheon, the pop superstar wrote: “Toni, your strength is admirable. As a woman whose family has been affected by lupus, I understand your struggle and have you in my thoughts.”

Nick Cannon

America’s got talent presenter and ex husband of singer Mariah Carey, announced in 2012 that he had lupus nephritis.

“It’s a form of lupus that’s just attacking my kidneys,” Cannon told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “They thought it was just kidney disease, and then they were trying to figure out why my immune system was attacking my kidneys, and that was sort of the root of it all.”

He first became aware of his condition when he was hospitalized in January 2012 whilst on vacation in Aspen with his wife and their twins. He was diagnosed with kidney failure and later developed blood clots in his lungs, another complication of the disease. “A lot of people have passed away from that. The doctor said it was lucky I was in such great shape.”