Selena Gomez tears up over her life-or-death situation
As the honorary chair of the Lupus Research Alliance, Selena spoke about how she battled for her life. "It actually got to a point where it was life or death," she said.
Selena returned to the stage for the first time since her kidney transplant to perform at the 2017 American Music Awards. A day after this, she used the Lupus Research Alliance’s Breaking Through Gala to talk about how she battled her "life-or-death" condition.
The gala, held on Monday in New York, recognized Gomez for her work in raising awareness for the auto-immune disease. Being the honorary chair, she used the platform to talk about her experience and to honor those whose efforts saved her from a fatal condition.
"I am really honored to be here with all of you guys tonight, my Lupus community," she said. "As many of you know or might not know, I was diagnosed with Lupus about five or six years ago. I also want people to know why research is so important and why we must support the scientists who bring all the promise of new discovery."
She went on to emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and acknowledged those who helped her recover, including her best friend, Francia Raisa, who donated her kidney.
"Maybe I wasn’t necessarily really good at knowing what that meant, so it actually got to a point where it was life or death. Thankfully, one of my best friends gave me her kidney and it was the ultimate gift of life. And I am doing very well now.” Raisa, who had seen her friend breakdown after struggling to open a water bottle volunteered to get tested and donate her organ without a blink. She had said in an earlier interview, "It just vomited out of me," Raisa said. "I was like, 'Of course I'll get tested."
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. The immune system protects us from antigens (external bodies) such as viruses, bacteria, and germs. It does this by producing proteins called antibodies. The white blood cells (B lymphocytes) are responsible for producing these antibodies.
Lupus makes the immune system hyperactive and unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissues. This puts the immune system on a constant fight-mode which results in it attacking healthy cells. This results in inflammation, swelling, pain, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.
Any part of the body can be affected by lupus; the skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels are the commonly affected organs.
Symptoms of Lupus
The symptoms of lupus are similar to those of other conditions. That's why it's important to get a clear diagnosis to detect the causes and ensure treatment begins as early as possible. The common symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Pulmonary problems
- Kidney problems
- Swollen joints
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Thyroid problems
- Dry mouth and eyes
General Arthritis vs. Lupus Arthritis
Arthritis is caused by inflammation OR wear and tear of the joints. The common symptoms include stiffness of joints, pain, swelling, and redness. It can sometimes limit movement in the shoulders or knees.
Lupus arthritis is caused purely by inflammation. If the condition continues to remain untreated, it can lead to damage to the joints, even if lupus isn't attacking them directly.
Life Expectancy and Treatment
While it's a fact that scientists haven't yet developed a cure for lupus, and some people do lose their lives to this condition, it is not life-threatening in all cases. Studies reveal that 80–90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal lifespan.
A Common Misperception about Fatality
There's some confusion about the life expectancy of lupus patients because of how research reports are communicated and interpreted by the general population.
Reports often state that 80–90% of people with lupus live for more than 10 years. This does not mean that the life expectancy is limited to just 10 years from the time of diagnosis. "10 years" here refers to the number of years involved in the study and doesn't represent a person's life expectancy.
The studies followed patients with lupus from the time of diagnosis for a period of ten years. At the end of this period, they found that 80–90% of the people were still alive. They did not follow through with those who continued to live for the next 20, 30 and 40 years.
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