Lady Gaga was forced to disclose the fact that she is suffering from fibromyalgia this week, after having to cancel her Rock in Rio set and postpone her European tour. Fibromyalgia is an incurable condition that causes widespread nerve pain and fatigue.
I have always been honest about my physical and mental health struggles. Searching for years to get to the bottom of them. It is complicated and difficult to explain, and we are trying to figure it out. As I get stronger and when I feel ready, I will tell my story in more depth, and plan to take this on strongly so I can not only raise awareness, but expand research for others who suffer as I do, so I can help make a difference. I use the word "suffer" not for pity, or attention, and have been disappointed to see people online suggest that I'm being dramatic, making this up, or playing the victim to get out of touring. If you knew me, you would know this couldn't be further from the truth. I'm a fighter. I use the word suffer not only because trauma and chronic pain have changed my life, but because they are keeping me from living a normal life. They are also keeping me from what I love the most in the world: performing for my fans. I am looking forward to touring again soon, but I have to be with my doctors right now so I can be strong and perform for you all for the next 60 years or more. I love you so much.
Web MD explains what Mother Monster is living with: “You may have painful ‘trigger points,’ places on your body that hurt no matter what medication you take. Your muscles may feel like they have been overworked or pulled even though you haven’t exercised. Sometimes, your muscles will twitch. Other times they will burn or ache with deep stabbing pain. Some patients with fibromyalgia have pain and achiness around the joints in their neck, shoulders, back, and hips. This kind of pain makes it difficult to sleep or exercise.”
The idea of trying to tour, learn dance routines, and plan a Super Bowl halftime show while living with those ailments sounds like a waking nightmare, and yet, our Lady of Gaga has somehow managed to wow the world pretty consistently for the better part of the last decade, without having to reveal her less-than-perfect health status until now.
A similar amount of awe should be directed at Selena Gomez, who very quietly went off and got a kidney transplant this month, generously donated by her friend (and clearly all-round hero), Francia Raisa. Gomez needed the op because of lupus. Via the Mayo Clinic, lupus is a “chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.” Gomez announced the procedure had taken place, via Instagram, with this beautiful tear-jerker of a photo.
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
Both Gaga and Gomez’s posts about their health issues prompted an outpouring of love and support on social media, as well as notes from people also living with lupus and fibromyalgia. On Gomez’s post, @syhvahn_lisseth shared: “I have been battling Lupus for 13 years and the treatments are tough… but the hardest thing is not having anyone by your side that understand[s] so thank you for using your platform to bring awareness to Lupus stay strong sweet heart 💪🏼💜💛 ”
On Gaga’s post, @karellynn commented: “Stay strong! You’re an amazing woman. From one chronic pain and trauma fighter to another, I know it’s real. I know it’s unbearable. Especially when you look beautiful on the outside. Nobody knows the struggle on the inside. Sending loving vibes out to you 💜💜💜 ”
Having these two vivacious singers simultaneously speaking out about their vulnerabilities has served to raise awareness around lupus and fibromyalgia (both illnesses affect mostly women and often come as a combination package), and has given the world an important reminder that the chronically ill are also active, useful members of society, contrary to stereotypes that suggest otherwise.
What’s more, Gomez and Gaga have indirectly started a conversation about the difficulties people living with these kinds of invisible illnesses often have in getting taken seriously. Shockingly, according to one study, “23 percent of general practitioners and 12 percent of specialists characterized fibromyalgia patients as malingerers.” Just as horrifying are the websites dedicated to wondering aloud if lupus is even real.
The quiet bravery Gomez and Gaga previously employed when it came to their health battles was, with hindsight, quite astonishing. But the way they revealed them last week was the epitome of grace and resilience under extremely tough circumstances.