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Toni Braxton Says She ‘Worked Hard’ to ‘Hide’ Her Lupus Diagnosis for ‘The Longest Time’

Toni Braxton Says She Worked Hard to Hide Her Lupus Diagnosis
Toni Braxton. Dia Dipasupil/WireImage

Toni Braxton opened up about the long road to getting a lupus diagnosis, and why she didn’t initially go public about the autoimmune disease.

“I worked hard to hide it for the longest time,” Braxton, 56, admitted on the Tuesday, April 16, episode of the “SHE MD” podcast. “I was ashamed. Especially being a performer. So I would make light of it.”

Braxton revealed that she was told from her management to “hide” that she had lupus, which The Mayo Clinic defines as “a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.”

“People get scared around sick celebrities,” Braxton said. “And I couldn’t get insured. … You would not get work, because the second I [was] told I had it, I didn’t get work at first. No one wanted to put me on a stage. ‘Well, suppose she collapsed on stage, and the insurance, how are we going to do that?’ And so I couldn’t, at first I did not [work].”

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Braxton confessed she went 10 years without getting an official diagnosis for lupus. Braxton initially thought her symptoms — which included “elevated blood pressure” and “pain throughout [her] body” — stemmed from “being a new mom.” (Braxton shares kids Denim, 22, and Diezel, 21, with ex-husband Keri Lewis.)

“No one could figure it out,” she said, adding that she “felt like a hypochondriac.”

Toni Braxton Says She Worked Hard to Hide Her Lupus Diagnosis
Toni Braxton performs onstage at State Farm Arena on March 09, 2024. Paras Griffin/Getty Images

“Like I’m just telling people, ‘I don’t feel well,’ and no one’s listening,” she said. “And it doesn’t have a look. Lupus doesn’t have a look to it — not to say that other things do, but we always try to fake that we’re feeling great or we don’t want to worry anyone. As mothers and women, we tend to do that anyway.”

Braxton recalled her mental health taking a dip, saying, “We never talk about mental health. It definitely affected it. I had chronic anxiety. … It got worse.”

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As for what Braxton hoped listeners would take away from her candidness, Braxton said it’s important for her to be an advocate. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she said. “Nothing.”

Braxton revealed during the 8th Annual Lupus LA Bag Ladies Luncheon in 2010 that she suffered from lupus. While accepting a Women in Achievement award, she told the audience, “Today I’m going to talk about it because I’m a survivor and I’m here, and I don’t want to lose hope. Take a look — this is what lupus looks like.”

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