Over the years, Grammy-winning singer Toni Braxton has been open about her health issues. On her reality show, Braxton Family Values, we’ve seen her publicly battle lupus. Now, the R&B star is discussing a recent “traumatic” and “scary” medical emergency. The “Breathe Again” artist revealed to People that in September 2022 “she underwent a procedure after 80 [percent] of the main artery in her heart was blocked.”
Though she said she’s been hospitalized “more times than I care to admit,” she confessed that she postponed the routine tests that check the status of her lupus.
“I kept putting it off thinking, ‘Oh, I’m fine. I’ll be okay.’ But my doctor was persistent and I went to get tested in the last week of September. I did a specialized test and they looked at my heart and saw some abnormalities,” Braxton said. “I found out that I needed a coronary stent. My left main coronary artery was 80 [percent] blocked. The doctors told me I could’ve had a massive heart attack, I would not have survived.”
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the body. It leads to inflammation that can cause rashes, joint swelling and pain, and can weaken the kidneys, heart and lungs.
“It was a traumatic moment for me. I was in shock,” she said. “I remember that day because my chest was aching often, just hurting. And I thought I was just sad because unfortunately my sister [Traci Braxton] had just passed and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m really aching in my heart for my sister.’ And come to find out, of course I was sad about my sister, but I also had underlying health issues. It was my body talking to me, telling me something’s not quite right.”
For Toni, the emergency was a wake up call that no matter what’s going on in her life, she has to stay vigilant with her health. In a post-pandemic world, it’s something we all need to stay on top of. This is especially important for Black people, because we aren’t the best when it comes to seeing doctors for preventative health.
“It was really a scary moment,” the “Un-Break My Heart” singer said. “Had I not gotten that test, my life would’ve been different.”
“I look at it like it was a blessing in disguise for me because now, putting off tests? Oh no, I will not put off tests,” Braxton added. “If all I have to do for my lupus and my kidney health is pee in a cup, I can pee in a cup. How many times do you need me to pee? If all I gotta do is get my arm pricked for some blood? Oh yes, I can do that. How many vials do you need?”
The situation led Braxton to work with pharmaceutical company Aurinia on its Get Uncomfortable campaign. It urges those battling lupus to get routine tests and consult specialists, so they can stay informed about their kidney health.
“I know we’re all scared sometimes to go to the doctor. Especially for me having lupus, I was scared, I didn’t want to know,” she said. “But I find that knowing is empowering and it gets my doctors on top of my lupus and my kidney health. And that’s the most important thing.”