Pop songstress and all-around entertainer Selena Gomez will grace the cover of the latest Billboard Magazine, set to be released on Thursday. In an expansive feature, Gomez opened up about her newfound self-empowerment and inspiration as well as her very serious lupus diagnosis. She revealed that a recent break in her career was the result of undergoing chemotherapy, a common course of action for patients with severe forms of the disease. "I could’ve had a stroke," Gomez told Billboard. Gomez's condition as well as her serious treatment regimen begs the question: can lupus be cured?
Sadly, there is still no cure for the chronic autoimmune disease. One of the biggest obstacles in finding a cure for lupus is the fact that there has yet to be an established cause for its manifestation. Though Gomez will likely continued to be monitored and be treated her entire life, advancements in medicine have made it so that a majority — 80 percent to 90 percent — of patients live a standard lifespan, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
There are potential risk factors, however. Lupus tends to affect women of childbearing age more than men and Gomez, who's 23 years old, certainly falls under the Cleveland Clinic's age range of 14 to 45. Additionally, those of African, Asian, and Native American descent are also at a higher risk of developing the disease.
Given the complexity of the disease, no single treatment is right for all lupus patients, and regimens tend to change based on a whole host of factors, including age and general health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are three different chemotherapy medications that are typically prescribed to treatment severe forms of lupus: methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, and mycophenolate mofetil. The latter two can be used in tandem and has been proven effective to treat lupus concentrated primarily in the kidneys.
While Gomez was away and dealing with a very private matter, rumors swirled that the former Disney star had developed substance abuse issues and was in rehab rather than tending to her health in other ways. Gomez tells Billboard the cruelty of tabloids is ultimately what kept her quiet about her lupus treatment until now. Gomez said:
I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.' I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again... I'm so f'ing nice to everybody, and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was 7. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story.
Many details of Gomez's lupus diagnosis remain a mystery, and though she may choose to keep it that way, her openness and confidence is truly inspiring to those also struggling with the disease.