Dear Selena Gomez,
Thank you for speaking out about your lupus. I know that took a lot of bravery because you know that this diagnosis will affect how people will see you, especially given the nature of your industry. You had to watch people say you were in rehab for addiction of some kind when you were going through chemotherapy. I know what that chemotherapy is like, although not in high doses in a concentrated period of time like you did. As much as I love my infusions because they make me feel better, they’re not fun. Besides, I can tell people what I’m going through and they get it. You had to suffer and let the world talk about you as just another young celebrity who was in rehab.Thank you, @selenagomez, for speaking out about your lupus! Other people with #rheum diseases are grateful. Click To Tweet
I’m sorry that you have to deal with people writing headlines about how you’re dying because your chemo didn’t “cure” you. (I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want to give them the views, but the headline is from In Touch.) You worked so hard to be in remission, and I’m sure that the last thing you wanted was for tabloids to use the fact that you have an incurable autoimmune disease to boost sales. Being in remission is incredible, and you went through a lot to get there. The fact that tabloids are saying that you’re dying and your chemo didn’t work because you’re in remission and not permanently better must be so difficult. You shared a personal matter with the world – probably so people would stop thinking that you went to rehab – and it’s being turned around in thrown in your face. You deal with enough as someone with lupus, let alone with the fact that you’re a celebrity and a pop star. You shouldn’t have to deal with this, too.
Please know, Selena, that there are a lot of people out there rooting for you. I’ve always been kind of neutral about you, but between the lupus reveal and your new album – it’s seriously amazing – I’m officially a fan. And the spoonie community is a very supportive one. Even if you aren’t able to actively participate, know that it is there and is full of people who support and care for each other. This applies to the rheum community, too. You can find us on Twitter and social media in general by using hashtags like #rheum (psst – I also wrote a whole post about resources for people with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases and conditions).
Finally, I want to address something. I know that you have a lot going on and you are under no obligation to do this, but it would mean a lot if you could work to raise the profile of lupus and other rheumatic diseases. Just by explaining that you have it and what it is has done a lot. But there is still room for improvement. For example, people might come to the conclusion that it is easy for patients to go into remission, but that’s not necessarily the case. You, a pop star, were able to afford the time and money it takes for the kind of treatment you had. But that’s not easily available for the average patient, and it might not work for them, either. The last thing any of us want are more misconceptions because the average person doesn’t know a lot about rheumatic diseases.
I don’t mean to add more to your to-do list. With a new album to promote as well as award season coming up, I’m sure you have a lot on your plate. But I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the incredibly brave and incredibly important thing you did by announcing your diagnosis. Thank you for doing that. It meant a lot to me, and I’m sure it did to a lot of other rheum patients, as well.
Kate Mitchell, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia patient, writer, and grad student