Toni Braxton: “They Said I Shouldn’t Perform…”

Toni-Braxton2With six Grammy-awards and a hit television show under her belt, singer Toni Braxton seems to be living a great life. A very public, but amicable divorce, a great album with Babyface and a loving family and children. But it wasn’t always the case.

In 2008, Toni collapsed while performing in Las Vegas. In the emergency room, doctors first thought she’d had a ‘baby heart attack.’ “Twenty-three percent of my microvalves and the small blood vessels in my heart were receiving no oxygen,” Toni recalls. Further testing led to a diagnosis. “The blood work was undeniable,” she says. “It showed I have lupus.”

SEE: Black Celebrities Who Suffer With Lupus

Toni discovered lupus is a lifelong disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue. It affects about 1.5 million Americans, mostly women, and causes a range of symptoms, from rashes and joint pain to inflammation of the heart, lungs and other organs. “For some, it’s their skin and scalp,” Toni notes. “For me, it’s internal. It loves my heart. It’s like it wants to sit there and say, ‘Hi,’ and hang out.”

Since her lupus diagnosis, Toni has learned to manage her disease with medication and lifestyle changes, including…