Gomez has long been open about her experience with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation in the joints, skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and elsewhere. The condition results in a slew of symptoms, including chronic pain, fatigue, fevers, mouth sores, and kidney problems.
Gomez first publicly discussed her lupus diagnosis in 2015, after she took a break from her global tour to undergo chemotherapy and mentally process it all. “I could’ve had a stroke,” she told Billboard. “I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
In 2017, Gomez revealed that she was additionally diagnosed with lupus nephritis—a lupus complication that affects the kidneys—and had to receive a kidney transplant that year. “It actually got to a point where it was life or death,” Gomez said at the 2017 Lupus Research Alliance’s Breaking Through Gala, per E! News. “Thankfully, one of my best friends [Francia Raisa] gave me her kidney and it was the ultimate gift of life. And I am doing quite well now.”
The 31-year-old has continued to candidly speak about living with lupus—including how it affects her mental health and medication side effects—in the hope of raising awareness about chronic illness. “Yeah, we have days where maybe we feel like sh*t, but I would much rather be healthy and take care of myself,” she said in a TikTok live stream shared to Twitter in February. “My medications are important, and I believe they’re what helps me.” She continued: “I just wanted to…encourage anyone out there who feels any sort of shame for exactly what they’re going through, and no one knows the real story.”
3. Venus Williams
In 2011, after withdrawing from the US Open due to illness, Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition characterized by joint pain, fatigue, and its hallmark symptoms: dry eyes and dry mouth. It took the tennis player seven years of feeling “off” to finally get answers about her condition, she said in a 2022 YouTube video.