(CBS) Toni Braxton is coming out of the closet - about lupus
On Tuesday, the 43-year-old Grammy winner talked about her battle with the disease while accepting a Woman in Achievement award from the 8th Annual Lupus LA Bag Ladies Luncheon.
"Today, I'm going to talk about it because I'm a survivor and I'm here, and I don't want to lose hope," she said. "Take a look - this is what lupus looks like."
What the disease looks like for many people is a lifelong struggle with skin rashes, joint pain and inflammation of the kidneys and other organs. In extreme cases, the disease can be fatal. Doctors treat the symptoms, mostly with steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs, and hopefully with a new medication, Benlyst, which received a positive FDA review this week.
For the 1.5 million sufferers, there is no cure.
Doctors don't know why, but 90 percent of lupus patients are women. Braxton likely had them in mind when she took to Twitter this week, telling her fans how she struggled with the decision to come out.
It was "a big moment for me. It was a tough decision to come out about it." she tweeted. "But it was such a relief!"
Last year, Braxton admitted her uncle died of lupus complications and her brother also suffers from it, but this is the first time she has fully disclosed her own condition.