Tawny Smith couldn’t figure out why she was always so tired. In 2005, the then 30-something-year-old journalist was a successful producer, newly married and looking forward to further building her career. But was plagued with unexplainable exhaustion that kept getting in the way. It wasn’t until she saw a rheumatologist several months later that she was provided with some answers: she had Lupus.
“I found myself diagnosed with this mysterious disease that left me extremely tired, with achy joints and disoriented at times,” Tawny said. “Now I’m dedicated to raising awareness so that no one is left wondering what’s wrong with them like I did all those years ago.”
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that increases the risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attacks, strokes, and transient ischemic attacks (TIA), often called mini-strokes. Rheumatologist Dr. Meenakshi Jolly says that it also causes hair loss, swelling of the face and skin ailments which often leads to self-esteem issues.
“This is a disease that is primarily found in women of color and can affect in invisible ways and externally,” she says. “That’s why I decided to take my treatment methods a step further and provide not only medical care, but psychological as well.” With the help of industry experts, Dr. Jolly provides beauty guidance, art offerings and other forms of counseling to help mitigate depression and body image issues.
Much like Tawny, performing artist