Lessons In Perseverance From a Brooklyn Artist Living With Lupus

No two cases of Lupus are exactly alike. But that doesn't diminish the importance of sharing stories and experiences with the disease, as activist Shanelle Gabriel explains in this original video feature we created with her.


Shanelle was diagnosed with Lupus back in 2004, when she visited a doctor after about a year of symptoms like cold extremities and persistent fatigue. As a poet and singer, Shanelle knew that she could use her talents to bring awareness to the autoimmune disease and show other people who have it that they are not alone.

You can watch Shanelle share one of her verses about Lupus in the video above, where she raps:

"To put things in perspective,
Lupus can't hold me,
I'm gonna keep climbing walls
like an ivy,
trying to stop me is in vain,
like an IV.
Tenacity flows through my bloodstream,
and I'm reaching my goals
no matter how hard it seems."

The theme of persistence is common in Shanelle's musical work and in her activism. Living with Lupus, she says, has parallels to pursuing life as an artist. "Things don't always work out," she observes, "but you've kind of got to embrace it, you know? Rock out, live your life, live your art."

Part of how Shanelle has embraced her situation is by joining a campaign from the American College of Rheumatology called Simple Tasks, within which the singer and rapper finds opportunities to share her stories and experiences. In this and in other ways, Shanelle has chosen to lean into her disease and use it to help others, rather than shying away from the spotlight. In fact, she's stepping into the spotlight even more these days; she recently released a series of mini-documentaries all about living with Lupus.

Shanelle practices what she preaches. By living life to the fullest, she refuses to let her disease define her, preferring to define her life all by herself.

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