Selena Gomez Announces She's Received a Kidney Transplant

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On Thursday, Selena Gomez shared that she received a kidney transplant earlier this summer. In an Instagram post, the 25-year-old addressed concerned fan who noticed the singer appeared to be “laying low for part of the summer,” and confirmed her absence, sharing she underwent a kidney transplant due to lupus.

“I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering,” Gomez wrote in her post, which shows a photo of her in the hospital with her kidney donor as well as her postoperative scar. “It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you.”

I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health. I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made. For more information regarding Lupus please go to the Lupus Research Alliance website: www.lupusresearch.org/ -by grace through faith

A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2013, but didn’t reveal her diagnosis until 2015, after she took a break from touring to get chemotherapy to treat the condition. Since then, she’s been open about her health, sharing updates and glimpses into her life with fans. Gomez. In May, she released the music video for “Bad Liar,” which featured the gauze and “fall risk” bracelet she had gotten in the hospital earlier this year.

Gomez also thanked her kidney donor, actress Francia Raisa, known for her role on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

“There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” Gomez wrote. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed.”

In addition to updating fans, her post also raises awareness for Lupus and the Lupus Research Alliance, both of which she’s advocated for before. This past July, for her birthday, Gomez asked people to donate to the Lupus Research Alliance. And earlier this year, she founded the Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

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When a Princess With Lupus Waits for Her Prince Charming

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As a little girl, I always loved the classics like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sleeping Beauty.” Prince Charming sweeps the princess off her feet and they live happily ever after. As a teen, silly movies like “Never Been Kissed” with Drew Barrymore, or “Cinderella Story” with Hilary Duff, just fueled my desire to ride off into the sunset with Mr. Perfect. Even though I know it is not real life, somehow those movies still draw me in and encourage my dreams. I want the guy that will take me on spur of the moment adventures, or come home from work and cause dinner to be served cold. But is that really what I should expect?

Throughout the last several years, I have had to come to grips with the fact that my life is going to be so much different than I ever dreamed. Long days in the sun are a thing of the past. Working full-time takes more than it should. Cooking is only sometimes possible. The list is endless…

However, I only recently thought about how love was going to look different. I always knew I would have to have “the conversation” with whomever I was dating, but it hit me that maybe what I fantasize about is not what I really need.

I need the guy who takes me on an adventure but realizes that the day after will be a pajama day. I need the guy who is OK with leftovers for the third day in a row. I need the guy who wants to make out, but understands that me in the recliner next to him is all I can give. I need the guy who gets his beer and brings me a glass of water because I have to keep my veins up for the blood draws and IVs. And most importantly, I need the guy who understands that I am giving all of myself even though that does not always seem like enough.

I get that this is not the typical fairytale. We are supposed to get to live happily ever after and all of our dreams will come true. Yet, I wonder if in fact we are more blessed because we can enjoy the good days because we survived the worst days. The days spent at Disneyland will be more memorable than days spent at the doctor’s office. Days spent with family and friends will provide us with memories to survive the days where cuddling in bed is more than I can handle.

So, I think we do indeed get our fairytale. It is just different than any Disney movie we watched as children. The secret is, it will be better than we could have imagined.

Maybe you are where I am too, trying to figure out what a love life with chronic illness looks like. Your person is out there. And when you find them, they will be exactly what you need… loving, caring, and supportive. And you will ride off into your sunset just like Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.

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Thinkstock Image By: Kadriya

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Woman's Selfies Reveal There Is More Than Just One Type of Lupus

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When Jokiva Bellard first noticed a red rash on her skin and began experiencing the painful symptoms of lupus, she would go weeks without posting a photo on social media. She felt “ugly,” she said, but now, she’s using her Instagram account to educate others about lupus and show herself (and anyone with a chronic condition), that they are still beautiful.

Under the handle @_indianrosee, Bellard, a 23-year-old originally from New Orleans but now living in Dallas, posts honest photos of herself and the effects of her cutaneous, also known as discoid, lupus — a form of lupus that causes painful red lesions to form on the skin. She was diagnosed with discoid lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus (the most common form of lupus) when she was 18.

See me for who I am ????????

A post shared by Lupus advocate ???? (@_indianrosee) on

Bellard told The Mighty that people often don’t realize she has lupus — people have told her she must have eczema or use drugs.

“I used to call my mom and say ‘I’m in Walmart, these people are looking at me.’ At this time my rash was all over my face, completely red, swollen,” Bellard said. “I would start crying because they would walk on the other side of the aisle just to not come my way. The more society judged me off my appearance, my self-esteem sunk.”

During a hospital stay last year, Bellard took a video of herself talking about her condition and encouraging others struggling with lupus to take care of themselves and posted it on her Facebook page. By the next morning, it had 114,000 views, with Bellard receiving dozens of supportive messages.

Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that attacks every organ in your body and it is not to be taken as a game it is a serious condition that has not been fully determined of be able to control everyone lupus is different.

Posted by Jokiva Rivers on Sunday, March 27, 2016

That huge response motivated her to start posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram and advocating for lupus. She said she never anticipated the reaction she got, but was inspired by all the people who commented and helped her feel beautiful again.

“Love yourself, because if you love yourself in that situation, you’ve made people around you love you even more,” she said. “And people will want to educate themselves — ‘What’s going on with you, baby?’ You educate them.”

Sometimes I cannot cry because there are no tears left , There is no voice no fears kept , Sometimes I look in the mirror and try to understand the image , I say love yourself until you get the vision , I'm running and running but when will I make it , I kept giving and giving and until I could no longer make it. I am confused as broken , I feel like I'm fish in the wave but there is no ocean , No no no no this is not me is it ? And if it is would I be able to fix it ? Playing this movie but I couldn't even afford to buy the ticket , I feel like there's a fence but it's not white or picket , I wanna smile over the moon and glow over the stars , I wanna be that feeling that you get when you seen it all , And be content and feel more loved. I fear that my insecurities will take over and become the best of me , Hopefully I could overcome that and throw it out so you could have the best of me. Rescue me rescue me from this dream , Rescue me so the seen could be unseen , Hiding in a shell until I find what I mean.

A post shared by Lupus advocate ???? (@_indianrosee) on

Bellard now has over 93,000 followers on Instagram, who she calls her “family.” Through her photos and advocacy work (she led a “lupus walk” in Virginia earlier this year), she tries to support other warriors and educate people without chronic illnesses. For example, there was the follower who reached out to her for advice after losing her hair to alopecia (“I said embrace your natural beauty,” Bellard said) — and the singer Kehlani, who has a family member with lupus but didn’t know much about it beyond the butterfly rash until Bellard spoke with her.

In fact, Bellard said she’s happy to help others understand more about her condition, which she’s treated with two rounds of chemotherapy and takes 21 pills a day to manage.

“A 6-year-old girl walked up to me and said, ‘You’re dirty.’ And her mom was like, ‘Don’t say that, I’m so sorry.’ I said she doesn’t know,” Bellard said. “I don’t get easily offended by people who don’t know as long as they’re willing to be educated about what is actually going on with me.”

Healing takes time . Might not to start to notice at first but it soon will show ❤️

A post shared by Lupus advocate ???? (@_indianrosee) on

What she really wants is to inspire others living with chronic conditions that have affected their appearance and help them realize how beautiful they truly are. She’s currently getting ready to go back to school and plans to publish a book of poems and drawings about her life. Bellard also hopes to continue her advocacy work.

“Every time I run into a woman, I tell her she’s beautiful. I’m like, ‘You know girl, you’re looking nice. For you to have open heart surgery with lupus, girl you’re looking real good.’ ‘Girl, you had a leg amputation, you’re looking good, girl.’ They’re still beautiful even with those problems,” Bellard said. “That’s what I’m trying to get people to understand.”

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To the People Who Suggest I Make Lifestyle Changes to 'Cure' My Lupus

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Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before going on or off medication.

Have you ever been approached by someone who knows you have an autoimmune disease and suggests that perhaps if you eat healthier, diet or try certain supplements you will be cured? I have a bit of an issue with this. I actually find it offensive when people suggest I try “this or that” or when other autoimmunies say they have been “cured” of their disease just by diet and exercise alone without knowing my story. I want to address this from my perspective. I feel this is dangerous and it gives others a sense of false hope or that they are not doing something right. It can also make you feel like you have failed or are not trying hard enough.

I have SLE and CNS lupus along with other autoimmune complications. I struggled for over 20 years before being officially diagnosed. Before my lupus took a major toll on my life, I was very active and at my fittest. I ran every morning, lifted weights, loved hiking and worked a full-time, physically demanding job. I ate healthily, took care of my body and I was in the best shape of my life… and this is when lupus hit me the hardest. What did I do wrong? Nothing.

 

I have been on a diet my entire life, and have done everything “right.” As a matter of fact, I spent most of my teenage years on a farm when my symptoms began. Most of my life I lived overseas and ate nothing but “clean” organic whole farm food because it was our way of life. Instead of taking me to the doctor, my mother would treat me at home holistically. Of course, what you eat can affect or aggregate your disease just like many other diseases. But there comes a point when you may not have total control of your disease, by no fault of your own.

Lupus, like many other autoimmune diseases, will do what it wants when it wants, without warning, regardless if you’re doing everything “right.” Lupus is an autoimmune disease caused by a genetic mutation. There is no known cure. Lupus can go into remission, but I think there is a huge misconception between being “cured” and going into “remission.” The definitions have two entirely different meanings. Lupus can range from mild to severe. Lupus can attack major vital organs which can be life-threatening. Every patient and treatment plan is different. No two lupus patients are alike.

I chose a rheumatologist who treats me both holistically and with modern day medicine. I rejected chemo for nearly six months because I did not want to “poison” my body. By the grace of God and that “poison,” I am still alive today. I literally went from taking no medications to over 20 prescriptions and supplements daily just to maintain my day-to-day life.

What may work for some may not work for others. For some, maybe all the person needed was a lifestyle change and their disease went into remission, and that is wonderful. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most of us. Before you make suggestions to an autoimmunie about their lifestyle without knowing their story, please take into consideration how you could impact that person’s life with your words. Having an autoimmune disease is serious and is not to be taken lightly.

I know at one point, being frustrated with myself, I listened to all the bad advice and regretfully got off all my medications. I learned very quickly what a dangerously huge mistake that was. My doctor told me I had two options: I could either take my medications, or allow my disease to progress into my organs. Which at that point, it already had.

So yes, exercise, do what you’re able to do, stay away from trigger foods and take care of your body, but also find yourself a good doctor and find a treatment plan that works for you. No one knows your body better than yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and maybe someday, hopefully, we will find a real cure.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via lorenzoantonucci.

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How I Respond to People Who Make Ignorant Comments About My Illness

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Most of the articles I write come from a pretty personal place – often spurred by some moment or incident where I thought, “Gee, someone else may be going through that. Maybe I can help them.”

Well, today I went out during a flare with my cane to get hot wings for my fiancé and the server asked me how sick I was and if there was a cure, all because I had a mobility device. Not having used it for a few weeks, I had forgotten what it felt like to walk around without it and to be able to feel invisible in a crowd of people once again. With a mobility device of any kind, you tend to stand out like a sore thumb, and there are always those people who love to ask ignorant questions, well-intentioned though they usually are.

woman standing outside with her walker

I remember being with a wheelchair attendant at the airport once who told me about how she had a friend with lupus who had just died at the age of 30. I sat there unable to move (being wheeled about by her) listening to this thinking, by god, this is what I have to fear and think about next when I can’t sleep at night. People aren’t just asking about the cane anymore, but are essentially telling me I might die.

I’ve had people ask when I will die, too, and tell me they know for a fact my life expectancy is shorter because I have lupus. This of course spurred an all nighter of agonizing WebMD-ing and Google searches, which made not only myself but my fiancé (and dog too, probably) upset over the “what ifs” and the “how do they know” and the “will this/won’t this happen,” which nobody truly knows the answer to.

I am not an expert at handling insensitive passerby or people in general. I am an expert, probably just like you, at meeting them on the street and being unsure of what to say that will be a kind balance of standing up for myself and my life as well as answering their questions in a polite but firm way.

I have learned the best thing to do is be kind and to rise above it. Tell them about a successful venture or thing you have recently done or are working on, a talent you have, something you love to spend your time doing – something outside of your illness. Use the moment as an opportunity to teach that person that people can be more than their illness. Try to remember this may be the first time that person has encountered a person who is ill, like yourself, and they genuinely don’t know a better way of showing their concern than being how they are in that moment.

Someone I respect very much always says to look at a person’s intent, not their actions – so, unless someone is openly making fun of you, it is best to err on the side that they didn’t want to upset you and had your best interest at heart. I know this doesn’t make it easier to take things less personally, but that part is on you (and me) to handle, just like it is to learn to handle the stranger who has a million questions. If you learn some strategies, it may become easier in time.

That same person also tells me to have “answers on deck” for ignorant people who ask me these questions, so I can exit quickly and feel in control of the situation, and not so taken aback and upset or thrown by their remarks as I am if I haven’t thought briefly about what to say if someone were to ask. Sometimes I’ll get asked a few times in the same day – and people who have an illness or mobility device know how that can make you feel if you are’t prepared or ready to deal with it. It can really ruin your day!

woman posing with her cane which has skulls on it

My answers? Depends what they ask. Sometimes they ask how old I was when I got sick. That really hurts. Sometimes I tell them, sometimes I don’t. I typically tend to say I have lupus. Some people will then ask what it is or if there is a cure, and I say I am doing well, but there isn’t. Still, I am positive and will be fine, thanks for asking. Then I change the subject in hopes they will give up. I change the subject to how I am busy writing and just came in to order x or y, and how was their day? And then they usually say, “Oh, how lovely!”

You are in control at that point, and can keep changing the subject or evading answering questions or leave the area. You also don’t have to answer any questions at any point from when they started asking. “No” is a full sentence. Remember that. Have answers prepared for “not answering” at all if you don’t want to.

It can be a real downer to run into people who ask or probe or have their own opinion about your illness (and how to treat it), but remembering they just want to help is what’s important. I try to remember too that people who are nasty (the really nasty ones), like bullies in high school, are most often mean because something hurts inside themselves. Aside from this, people who are just asking but doing it the wrong way are doing the best they can, and it is up to us to teach them and the rest of the world about us and our illness if we want to change their opinion.

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Why I'm So Open to Talking About My Illnesses

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I’m starting to forget what sleep feels like. So what is there to do at 4 a.m.? Write. Often when a conversation starts with someone about being sick, they ask, “Are you OK talking about this?” and my answer is always the same… absolutely. I’ve been questioned a great deal about why I talk about my illnesses as frequently as I do. I’ve been asked, “Why don’t I keep it to myself more? This one person I know, you’d never know they were sick.” Well, good for them! That’s great they keep it private. And I totally understand wanting to do that. But I’d like to go another route and I hope it’s respected.

– For one, it’s a coping mechanism for me. Talking about it makes it easier to accept and makes it not as petrifying as it can be sometimes.

– If I’m not going to talk about it, who is? I strive to spread awareness so that if I tell someone about it, they’ll remember and tell someone else.

– Is there such a thing as silent fundraising? I don’t think so.

 

I know there are many people out there with illnesses – whether they’re autoimmune, chronic or temporary. For me, I have three illnesses that will be with me until a cure is found. I’ve had lupus for six years now, fibromyalgia for a year and a half and POTS for six months. I’ve absolutely had these illnesses for longer, but this is when I was diagnosed. I know I haven’t gone into much detail about my fibro or POTS symptoms (or what POTS even is), but that’s for another night of not sleeping.

After a memory of a book from a friend followed by a night of being unable to sleep, I got to thinking. I always believe and try to tell people to own their story. Everyone has a story, illness or not. But own it. Don’t be ashamed. Be vulnerable. If you’re judged, those people don’t belong in your life. Be you…bravely.

People can be whoever they want on social media. They can take 20 pictures of something until they find the perfect shot. They can be having a horrible day but post a picture or video that makes it look like everything is fine. That’s what cell phones, iPads and computers have done – they’ve become a mask people can hide behind to portray their world however they please. I try to be as authentic as possible, which we can all deep down agree (whether you like to admit it or not) is a great deal harder than we’d like it to be.

I have two Instagram accounts…one I started when Instagram became popular years ago, and another I started about a year and a half ago when my health started to decline. I decided this one would show everything there is to show about being sick. I’d give lupus, fibromyalgia and POTS a face for all to see. I still struggle daily wondering if people believe me or if they “get it.” I don’t post all pictures of the bad days – of me laying in bed all day or on the bathroom floor. Me missing parties and vacations and work. I’ll post pictures of me at these events, but what you’re not seeing is me in the hotel 90 percent of the vacation or sleeping the days away.

I talk about whatever is going on as much as possible and pair my words with an appropriate image, but pictures are often more memorable than words. When pictures show something, it can be perceived differently by everyone or even misconstrued. What can I do about that? I can keep sharing. I can keep writing. I can fight. I can talk. I can educate. I can spread awareness. Fighting is my life right now…every single day. So whether it’s my highest highs or my lowest lows, I’m here to share it all. Because if you don’t see it all, how are you going to truly understand what life is like being sick?

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Ingram Publishing.

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