We live a celebrity obsessed world, just take a look at the number of followers they have on twitter/instagram etc to confirm this, when celebrities speak the world listens. If they wear something or do something all the followers sit up and take notice, hence so many brands want to use a celebrity to promote their products. People follow the daily lives of these people and feel they know them as friends, so who better to give information about health, aren’t friends and family the people we turn for advice? Some celebrities promote only themselves and their brand, others have used their high profiles for good and to raise awareness of various causes and illnesses.
When a celebrity/prominent figure opens up about private health issues they do an incredible service of raising awareness. Many celebrities reveal intimate health battles to let their fans know that their appearance may alter (sadly people on social media feel they can comment on appearance in a way they wouldn’t face to face with someone), or that they may be taking a break from work due to illness. Some step into the spotlight for the simple altruistic reason of helping others. If they do this, other celebrities are also likely to feel they can also speak up.
Years ago big stars never spoke about their personal life and certainly not anything related to their health, for fear of being blacklisted and never working again. Never in a million years would they have admitted to having something such as mental health issues, but look at the way this is now openly discussed due to high profile people talking openly about how it's affected their lives.
I’ve said for years it’s like lupus is a dirty word, the media hardly mentioned it and as a consequence people have many misconceptions, such as the fact it was infectious and you can ‘catch it’, which is of course absolute nonsense.
We are always extremely grateful for celebrity support as lupus is always a poor relation when it comes to awareness, that's not for want of trying, but the general public and definitely the media are only interested if a celebrity speaks out about it. We’ve been very fortunate to have celebrities such as Julian Lennon and Kelle Bryan, both staunch supporters of our charity.
No-one would wish chronic illness on anyone, but a high profile celebrity is more likely to speak up if they have it or a family member is affected by it. In the last few years we have finally had some high profile stars speak up about lupus and raise enormous amounts of awareness by doing so. It also shows that lupus doesn’t discriminate, no matter how rich/famous/gorgeous you are you can still be affected by a chronic illness.
Selena Gomez first publicly spoke of her diagnosis of lupus on the Ellen DeGeneres show in 2015. She spoke out after some wrongly suggested she had an addiction, "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". In 2017 she shared a post on Instagram announcing that she had recently undergone a kidney transplant. This post linked to the Lupus Foundation of America website so that her fans could educate themselves further on lupus, that was fantastic as often (on the rare occasions they write anything) the media will write an article on lupus and not link to a trusted website for further information. She has further revealed that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression, all potentially caused by lupus, pushed her to take time off from her music career.
In 2010, Lady Gaga told Larry King that she tested "borderline positive" for lupus. Just the word ‘lupus’ spoken by a massive celebrity immediately raised awareness as fans wanted to know what it was. She often speaks of her Auntie Joanne, who had lupus and died aged just 19. Lady Gaga, who’s middle name is Joanne said “I never met her, but she’s been one of the most important figures in my life.”
Nick Cannon was diagnosed with lupus in 2012 and put together a series of video’s The NCredible Health Hustle, where people could follow his journey. He has been very outspoken about having lupus and his battle with it. It was great that a male felt he could talk about chronic illness as often men will be reluctant to talk about health issues.
A lot of people feel embarrassed to admit they have lupus, although it’s not their fault they feel people may judge them and sometimes their ability to do their job etc, so the fact that some celebrities are speaking out is really taking away the ‘taboo’ of lupus, showing there’s nothing to be ashamed of and that patients are not alone. Indeed they may literally be saving lives as, particularly in the case of illnesses such as lupus, early diagnosis often makes for a better outcome and of course donations given after people read about the celebrities battle will help in vital research. Long may these celebrities reign!
For a comprehensive list of celebrities with links to lupus please click here.