American actress and pop sensation Selena Gomez left her fans in shock last week after she opened up about her difficult battle with lupus.
The 23-year-old first started getting press questions about her health in 2013 after she canceled her Asia and Australia tours for her new album "Revival," which already boasts two chart-topping hits, reports BBC News. She later sought treatment at Dawn of the Meadow rehab facility in Arizona, amid rumors that she was struggling with substance abuse.
Gomez recently revealed to Billboard Magazine that, during her time away from the spotlight, she was actually undergoing chemotherapy for the autoimmune disease.
"That’s what my break was really about," she told Billboard. "I could've had a stroke."
Gomez has since publicly criticized the tabloid press that attributed her absence to addiction issues, BBC News reports.
"I wanted so badly to say: 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy,'" Gomez told Billboard. "I've been working since I was seven. I've been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It's so disappointing that I've become a tabloid story."
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lupus affects the body’s immune system, making it unable to tell the difference between healthy tissues and harmful viruses.
Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, fever, painful and swollen joints, kidney problems and skin rashes.