Celebrity Health

Sports Illustrated Model Robyn Lawley Shares Her Lupus Story

Sports Illustrated model Robyn Lawley isn't just the magazine's first curvy model, she's also a lupus warrior.

Sports Illustrated Model Robyn Lawley Shares Her Lupus Story

Photo: Robyn Lawley (Instagram/@robynlawley)

Robyn Lawley is the first curvy model to be named a model for a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit  edition. She has appeared in four publications of the magazine, even the most recent issue, and hosts the plus-size modeling competition called Cosmo Cure.

Lawley is a celebrity in fashion and the body-positive community and uses her platform to discuss invisible illnesses like lupus. Lawley joined MUSE modeling agency’s Image and Curve boards and recently let Revelist know she finds strength in understanding other people with autoimmune diseases.

Lawley says, "It is always nice to put your hand up and say, 'I have it too.’ It leads to other women and men out there to not feel alone in their battle."

When Robyn first contracted lupus, she had no idea of what was happening. Now she is a voice for those who have lupus.

Lawley has scars to prove that lupus is damaging to your body. She posted a picture of her scar from an injection for a flare-up. She surrounded the dent on her hip with the slogan, “Lupus Warrior.” Robyn Lawley is indeed a warrior and a brave one at that, for revealing scars that other people may never show. Lawley wanted to show women on International Women’s Day 2018 that she is a survivor.

Lawley hopes to prove that everyone is human, everyone has scars, and often everyone is battling something and often in secret.

Lawley’s crusade is to help other women to cherish and love their bodies. It doesn’t matter if you are big or small or have an invisible illness. You need to have body confidence, which is a combination of representation and gratitude, emphasis.

Recently Lawley experienced a seizure and fell down on her staircase. She landed on her face and received several injuries. Afterwards, Lawley courageously posted side-by-side photos of her injuries, one picture with her face bloodied and scraped and the other with noticeable scars on her forehead, chin, and lip.  Lawley stated that she believed her lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome caused her to have a seizure and fall.

Antiphospholipid syndrome happens when your immune system attacks the normal proteins in your blood. It causes blood clots in arteries and veins. Blood clots in your legs cause a condition known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. Damage from blood clots to your organs depend on the locations of the clots. If you do have a clot in your brain, you may have a stroke. It is not uncommon for those with lupus to have other autoimmune conditions like antiphospholipid syndrome. Like lupus, there is no cure for antiphospholipid syndrome, but there are medications to reduce the risk of clots.

Robyn Lawley says she was lucky to have just hurt her face. The scars are healing, and Lawley is grateful she didn’t fall while holding her daughter or do irreparable harm to her body.

There is no apparent reason why certain people with lupus have seizures. However, Dr. Howard Smith, M.D. director of the Lupus Clinic in the Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Disease at Cleveland Clinic, believes that lupus causes antibodies to attack your brain cells. Attacking antibodies causes dysfunction of the brain that brings on seizures. Another theory is your lupus affects blood vessels, and these clots can find their way to your brain.

Lupus also raises the risk of strokes, and it’s possible for you to have a silent stroke causing scar tissue to form on your brain. This formation can cause a seizure.

Seizures are unpredictable. Like Lawley, you can have a seizure while just walking down the stairs and fall. You can have a seizure while driving and cause an accident. Seizures give no warning signs.

“There’s a reason I was public about my lupus and aps [antiphospholipid syndrome] diagnosis from the starts, a lifelong incurable (for now) condition I didn’t know what I or still am in for,” Lawley wrote. “I, unfortunately, had a seizure on my staircase, I fell from over 7ft and landed on my face. I suppose it’s ironic that I’m a model, however I’m grateful I didn’t break my neck.”

Try and protect yourself from a spontaneous seizure by working with your doctor to get your lupus under control. Take medications like antimalarial drugs or prednisone or corticosteroids to control inflammation.

If you still have seizures even after taking medications, your doctor may put you on an anti-epileptic drug. Dr. Steffan Schulz, M.D. an assistant professor of rheumatology at Penn Medicine recommends you to avoid seizure prompts like flashing lights. Most importantly, you should develop a plan with your doctor manage your seizure and lupus symptoms.

Lupus affects about 1.5 million Americans today. It is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout your body. Your body’s immune system is responsible for the inflammation, and inflammation can affect various organs in your body including the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, lungs, blood, and heart.

Lupus is potentially life-threatening, and currently, there’s no cure. Symptoms of lupus vary according to the organs and parts of your body it affects. Symptoms can come and go, but the most common symptoms of lupus include:

Doctors are still confused about the exact causes of lupus, but it might a combination of many different factors, such as:

  • Medications: If you use certain medications, like hydralazines and procainamide, for a long time, then you are at-risk of contracting drug-induced lupus erythematosus.
  • Hormones: Studies suggest that abnormal hormone levels like increased estrogen levels might contribute to lupus.
  • Infections: Infections like cytomegalovirus, hepatitis C, and Epstein-Barr may cause lupus.
  • Environment: Triggers like smoking, stress, and exposure to silica dust or other environmental toxins might be potential lupus causes.
  • Genetics: A family history of lupus will put you at a higher risk for contracting lupus.
  • Anxiety and continual stress can cause lupus.

Unfortunately, even if you have experienced none of these potential causes of lupus, you can still have the condition.

You are at a higher risk for lupus if you are a woman, between 15 and 44, are African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native American or Pacific Islander. Don’t panic; you are just at an increased risk. These factors don’t mean you will get lupus.

Treatment varies according to your lupus symptoms and their severity. Doctors do recommend that you avoid excess ultraviolet sunlight and adapt to certain lifestyle changes. You can take supplements like flax seed, fish oil, and vitamin D. Change your diet, exercise, stay busy, get plenty of rest, and have a good attitude.