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What I Want People to Understand About Lady Gaga's Illness

Lady Gaga has come out with the announcement that she is canceling the 10 remaining dates of her Joanne World Tour.

She offered some insight into the decision, stating:

I’m so devastated I don’t know how to describe it. All I know is that if I don’t do this, I am not standing by the words or meaning of my music. My medical team is supporting the decision for me to recover at home. We’re canceling the last 10 shows of my Joanne World Tour. I love this show more than anything, and I love you, but this is beyond my control. London, Manchester, Zurich, Koln, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin. I promise I will be back in your city, but for now, I need to put myself and my well-being first. I love you, forever.

This is not the first time the pop singer has cancelled or postponed shows due to her health. Back in 2013, Gaga suffered a labral tear in her hip that forced her to cancel the second leg of her Born This Way Ball tour, affecting most of the East Coast.

Most accepted this news and gave their well wishes for a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, however, that was not the last of the singer’s health problems.

In September of last year Gaga officially announced her diagnosis of fibromyalgia. During this announcement, however, there were some mixed reactions — most notably there was some doubt and outrage. She postponed the European leg of her tour until the beginning of the next year, but as the news came out that those shows were now officially canceled permanently, there was even more of a mixed reaction.

And as I sit her contemplating the news, there’s still one question in the back of my mind, “Why?”

Why are fans and non-fans a like criticizing a woman for putting her health before anyone else’s needs? Why are they questioning the validity of her diagnosis and the need to take a break? Why are people not wishing her to get well soon, just as they had when she injured her hip a few years back? Why the sudden change?

Then it dawned on me — most people don’t understand.

Like most chronic and invisible illnesses, fibromyalgia is a condition that can be completely unpredictable from one day to the next. You can feel on top of the world one day and then not be able to get out of the bed the next. Pain can come on suddenly and severely, and yet no one can physically see the pain that the person is suffering. No one can see the fact that this is just a woman who has dedicated her life to music and her fans — who is most likely just as devastated as her fans — whose life has been taken control of because of this unpredictable condition.

All people see is a woman who can perform one day and not the next. People always point out that she was doing just fine the other day and then canceling shows the next. They don’t see the behind the scenes of what this condition can do to someone who isn’t traveling around the world and putting on performances nearly every single night. They don’t understand how much toll that can take on someone’s body none the less someone who is suffering from chronic pain.

I want people to understand.

Imagine making plans months in advance. The excitement you feel as you count down the days and the event gets closer and closer, but then something happens. Boom. You’re coming down with the flu. You tell yourself you’ll be fine in time for the event and do everything in your power to feel better before then and refuse to cancel. Every muscle in your body hurts, the fatigue is too much to handle and it seems like there’s no end in sight. Even with all those symptoms and being in pain you still refuse to believe that you’re not going to get better in time and push through the symptoms and pain. Then the big day sneaks up behind you and… nothing. You’re now stuck in bed and unable to function.

That’s what people with fibromyalgia — Gaga included — may feel like.

I want people to understand that this condition does not discriminate. It’s unpredictable and can be ruthless even for pop singers. Maybe, just maybe, people will think twice before asking “why?” one more time.

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Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page

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