Healthy Living

Joanne: Lady Gaga’s Emotional Tribute to Her Aunt Who Battled Lupus

Joanne: Lady Gaga’s Emotional Tribute to Her Aunt Who Battled Lupus

Photo: Lady Gaga - Joanne (Deluxe) (2016) (MP3 - 320Kbps) by Zahra Kusar. (Flickr)

A study observed that an average annual health cost of individuals with SLE is $12,643. The Lupus Foundation of America reported that two out of three patients with lupus have completely or partially lost their income as they are no longer able to perform their duties full-time. One patient in three has been temporarily incapacitated to work while one patient in four receives disability sustenance.

Currently, there are several celebrities doing their best to raise awareness and support the lupus community in every step of their disease. One of these celebrities is American singer-songwriter, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, otherwise known as Lady Gaga.

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Lady Gaga’s special tribute to her aunt

Lady Gaga’s new song, Joanne, is a very touching tribute to her late aunt who died on December 18, 1974. The lyrics tell how Lady Gaga wanted Joanne to stay and take her hand as Heaven is not ready for her. In the next few lines, it tells how Lady Gaga did not want her to leave and that she needs her more than the angels do in heaven.

The 2016 song from Lady Gaga goes on about her feelings on her aunt’s passing and how devastated she is by that terrible event. It was an emotional tribute to her late Aunt Joanne – the heart and soul one of her best-selling records. In her “The Fame” album in 2008, Lady Gaga included a poem for her Aunt as part of her acknowledgements. In addition, she had published a poem written by her Aunt entitled “For a Moment” in her “The Fame Deluxe Edition” booklet, which her Aunt never had the chance to publish.

Joanne Stefani Germanotta died of complications from lupus, a chronic and complex autoimmune disease, in 1974 when she was only 19 years old. It was revealed that she was sexually assaulted, which caused her conditions to worsen. 

Even if she didn’t live long to witness the success of her niece, her legacy and memory became a crucial part in the life and upbringing of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (famously known as Lady Gaga). Lady Gaga described her aunt as a very talented artist and always felt a strong bond with her. She said that because of her connection to her aunt, Lady Gaga will always have “two hearts”. She also inspired Lady Gaga to start a music career. Her legacy was so important that the artist has a tattoo on her arm of the date of her passing. She said that it was really her aunt and the strength of her family that gave her the courage to live her life the way Joanne never did.


The single which Lady Gaga wrote herself tells a story of anyone who was at a loss. It relates to her own experience from her aunt’s passing and features a different creative persona of Lady Gaga. The song is so personal that the song is not only about the feeling of loss but an achievement of herself and all the aspects of her life that made her who she is right now.

Joanne’s experience and death had created a void in her family’s heart, but her spirit lives within the family. Lady Gaga has since then drawn inspiration from her passing. As she made this tribute to her, she wanted to transform her great grief into healing and hope.

Lady Gaga’s own battle against being “Borderline Positive” for lupus

Lady Gaga was tested for “borderline positive” for lupus. She doesn’t have it yet but she might develop the disease. People with a genetic history of lupus can test positive for the disease, but may never have it developed. Individuals who were tested “borderline positive” or “incomplete lupus” need to take care of their health and continuously check with a physician for monitoring.  

The American College of Rheumatology established certain diagnostic criteria to confirm lupus. If an individual meets four out of eleven criteria, then lupus is likely to be concluded.

What Lady Gaga suffers from is fibromyalgia, another chronic condition that affects the bones and muscles. It could also attack the immune system, like lupus, if left untreated. She had opened up about her struggle with chronic pain and the disease, of which she was silently living with for several years. People with this disease suffer long periods of head-to-toe pain without any inflammation. Patients will have sleep issues and a lot of hypersensitivities, even certain food or medications bother them.

Lady Gaga used personal remedies to treat her pain. She said that the infrared sauna helps her when she would have spasms. Combined with a Marley silver emergency blanket that traps heat and a very cold ice bath, this therapeutic remedy helps her keep doing the things she loves the most, even when she is in pain.

Fibromyalgia can be devastating to some patients, as it may cause short-term memory loss, or what doctors refer to as “fibro fog”. There are no specific treatments for this disease since most patients are super sensitive to medications. Individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia, like Lady Gaga, opt for non-medication methods. Wellness activities or mind-body activities such as yoga, pilates, tai chi, or medications can help ease the pain. Exercise is also very important. The key is not to let the patient physically suffer more but to keep them more mobile and more flexible.

Lupus awareness

Lupus can, without a doubt, cause death. It is reported that 10-15 percent of individuals with lupus can die early due to complications. With enhanced diagnosis and continuous illness management, most people with the disease can go on living their normal lifespan.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in May 2002 that cases of deaths associated with lupus have increased within the 20-year time-frame, specifically in a group of African-American women 45-64 years old. However, it is still a question whether the increase is the effect of an actual rise in lupus mortality rate or proper identification and recording of deaths from the complications of lupus.

The Lupus Worldwide Awareness Month is in May, and there are many ways to help raise awareness for the disease. Each person can contribute to increase funding for extensive research and to give better support and services needed for patients.

Some suggestions from the Lupus Foundation of America are the following:

  • Share facts and information about lupus on social media
  • Organize a fundraising activity for a lupus non-governmental organizations and charities
  • Donate ample amount of money to a lupus organization
  • Be a part of an organized event for lupus awareness
  • Get involved in clinical trials to support further research
  • Communicate through local radio stations about the impact of lupus

Lupus awareness lags behind as compared to the other types of illnesses. Seventy-three percent of Americans aged 18-34 have not either heard of lupus or probably know insufficient information about lupus, apart from the name itself. This is also quite alarming as this is the age bracket with the greatest risk of contracting the disease.