‘It Literally Saved My Life’: Toni Braxton Urges the Public to Get Regular Health Checkups One Year After Life-Threatening Lupus Scare

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Toni Braxton is urging the public to get regular health checkups almost a year after suffering her own life-threatening experience.

In an interview with The Grio published on Oct. 19, the “Breathe Again” singer shared the importance of getting regular health checks and blood work done. Fifteen years ago, Braxton was diagnosed with lupus nephritis, a chronic auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack healthy tissue, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

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Singer Toni Braxton pleads for the public to get health checkups nearly one year after she ended up in the hospital.
Singer Toni Braxton pleads for the public to get health checkups nearly one year after she ended up in the hospital. (Photos: @tonibraxton/Instagram)

Symptoms may include pain and swelling in the joints, headaches, chest pain, light sensitivity, hair loss and rashes, with 30 percent of patients suffering from kidney failure.

Braxton said that having a checkup saved her life. She had emergency surgery in September 2022 after blood work showed the severity of the disease’s effect on her heart. Eighty percent of the songwriter’s left main coronary artery was blocked, and she needed a coronary stent to prevent a heart attack.

“I wasn’t going to go to the doctor’s last year about this time,” Braxton said. “I would not be here today if I had not gone to the doctor’s if someone hadn’t pushed me. It literally saved my life going to the doctor’s and getting that blood work. That’s part of the reason that I’m still here today.”

She told CBS News during Lupus Awareness Month in May that her skin, hair and kidneys also were affected by the disease, as well as her ability to perform. The “Unbreak My Heart” singer revealed that because of the disease, she is limited to performing two or three shows weekly.

“I love performing,” she shared. I love touring, but I know I can’t do six to seven shows a week. My body’s not gonna let me do that. But I always try to find the silver lining. Maybe I can do two to three shows a week.”

Braxton told The Grio that she used to avoid having regular checkups because she had to urinate in a cup for the blood work. The slogan for the “Get Uncomfortable With Lupus Nephritis” campaign is “Peeing in a Cup Sucks,” which Braxton says is “genius.”

“I thought it was a genius slogan that Aurinia came up with,” said the 55-year-old artist. “I was thrilled to be teaming up with Aurinia for the campaign because, for me, the situation of being uncomfortable when I go to the doctor’s for the lupus test and bloodwork and peeing in a cup, I’m always uncomfortable and I always hated it.”

Braxton is working hard to promote lupus awareness and appeared on Fox11’s “Good Day LA” to advise the public about The Lupus Foundation of America’s Walk to End Lupus Now event in Los Angeles. The event was on Sept. 30, and the “Long As I Live” artist promoted the event on Sept. 29.

She shared a picture from the news studio with the caption, “Thank you Good Day LA for having me! My LA fam, join me tomorrow at the “Walk to End Lupus Now” at LA LIVE. See you there! “

On Oct. 7, Braxton shared a different type of picture of herself with her Instagram fans — this one of her in her birthday suit. The post was captioned, “In my birthday suit..,” although the Grammy Award-winning artist wasn’t totally nude and wore a robe draped over her most important areas.

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Braxton said she has good and bad days, but she feels lucky to be alive.

“I would not have survived. You hear that, and you think, ‘Okay, it’s a 1 percent chance or a 3 percent chance of survival.’ They said there was no chance,” she added. “I was very lucky. I really do get emotional thinking about it because it’s only been a year.”

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million people suffer from the disease.