It was nearly two years ago that rumors first began to surface: Selena Gomez was battling lupus. At that time, she wouldn’t address the issue, and her PR people steadfastly refused to confirm or deny reports. Now, the 23-year-old singer is speaking out for the first time about her diagnosis and her need for chemotherapy.
It was early in 2014 when Gomez suddenly cancelled the Asian and Australian legs of her “Stars Dance” tour. With the rumor mill being what it is, that move created speculation that she might be battling an addiction problem. And, shortly thereafter, she did enter a rehab facility. It was confirmed by her representative that she was at Dawn at The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, being treated for “emotional issues” and “partying”. Many in the media speculated that it was somehow related to the breakup of her relationship with Justin Bieber.
At the time, Gomez told her fans she needed to spend some time working on herself after years of putting her career first. But she now says the real reason she needed to step away from the spotlight was her need to undergo urgent treatment for lupus.
Lupus is a condition that causes the human body to turn on its own healthy tissue. That’s because something goes wrong with the immune system – causing it to respond as it would to germs and viruses that invade from outside.
It’s relatively rare, and 90 per cent of cases have been diagnosed in women. Resulting symptoms can include inflammation, swelling of joints, extreme fatigue, headaches, chest pain and hair loss and can range from mild to chronic and life-threatening.
Most people diagnosed with lupus will have a near-normal life expectancy, but some are still at risk of dangerous complications.
Speaking to Billboard magazine for their October 17 edition, the singer explained: “That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke. I wanted so badly to say: ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
She addressed another troubling issue, in an interview with Us Weekly magazine: “This was the first year I ever dealt with anyone talking about my body,” Gomez said. “I’d land at the airport and people would yell out, ‘You’re fat!’ It was awful. I’ve been working in therapy. Even if I did gain weight, I’m fine.”
“I was in a bikini and got publicly ripped for being overweight,” she said. “That was the first time I’d experienced body shaming like that. I believed some of the words they were saying. When someone has your self-esteem in their hands…”
“I’m so nice to everybody and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was seven. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story.”
But the gossip and the body-shaming, ironically, have given her confidence. And her new album, she hopes, will silence the negative voices.
“Good For You”, the lead single from “Revival”, reached number five on the Billboard charts. That makes it her most successful US single yet.
“The hate motivated me,” she explained. “This is my time. I’ve deserved this. I earned it. This is all me.”