Whereas Tichina Arnold is thought for quite a few hit reveals like “Martin,” “Fortunately Divorced,” “Everyone Hates Chris,” and starring on her newest collection, CBS’ “The Neighborhood,” her most necessary position has been caring for her youthful sister, Zenay. The youthful Arnold was identified with lupus and 6 different autoimmune ailments on the age of 32.
Lupus is a mysterious illness that may trigger a wide range of signs, from a signature butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks and nostril, to fatigue and muscle and joint ache. It is a continual illness that strikes with out warning and is tough to diagnose and has no remedy. There are roughly 1.5 million folks within the U.S. dwelling with lupus, and 99% of them are ladies. Like Zenay, one in three folks with lupus additionally endure from a number of autoimmune ailments. Lupus can also be 3 times extra frequent in African American ladies than in Caucasian ladies.
Following Zenay’s prognosis, the close-knit sisters created the We Win Basis, a nonprofit group that brings much-needed help for these with lupus by elevating consciousness, offering counseling, and holding fundraisers. The group additionally supplies monetary and meals help to folks with lupus who’re in want.
Healthywomen talked to the dynamic duo about how the debilitating illness has impacted their lives.
Not being heard
Tachina and Zenay Arnold, courtesy of Queens Gentle Productions, LLC
As younger women rising up within the Arnold family in Queens, New York, Tichina had little consciousness of her youthful sister’s medical points, which included pores and skin rashes, being allergic to the solar, and fatigue. “We all the time thought she was being dramatic! We now have completely different personalities,” she mentioned.
However Tichina did discover Zenay’s unhealthy migraine complications and excessively painful menstrual cycles.
“I keep in mind my mother and I had been sitting in the lounge, watching TV. Zenay got here down and mentioned, ‘Mother, I’ve cramps.’ And we instructed her, That is okay, you will get previous it! Welcome to a lifetime of cramps!’ And she or he sat there for a second, however then really handed out. I used to be like, ‘Actually?! You’re going to be this dramatic!?”
With no prognosis, it was inconceivable to inform what Zenay was coping with.
“There have been a number of different indicators too, however we did not know what it was,” Tichina mentioned. “She wasn’t identified. You know the way it’s with Black households again then, dwelling paycheck to paycheck. It is often like ‘Give her Robitussin and maintain it movin’!'”
As Zenay grew older, she skilled unbelievable exhaustion, painful joints, and irritation that was so unhealthy she could not even transfer her fingers properly sufficient to place her hair in a bun. However her resilience saved Tichina from totally realizing the extent of what was taking place.
“We’re robust cookies,” Tichina defined. “We come from a technology of sturdy ladies that if one thing comes up, you . . . deal with it! Zenay by no means wore her sickness on her sleeve. I had seen her be at 80% with ache, and nonetheless press by means of.”
Then, a defining second on the airport modified every thing.
“Zenay’s well being scenario wasn’t actual to me, till at some point, after we had been touring. We went by means of the X-ray machine, and I referred to as out to her to rush up. I heard her say, ‘I am unable to take my sneakers off.’ I will always remember that feeling of fear and concern. I had to return by means of and untie her sneakers for her. It actually shocked me — to be tremendous one minute after which incapacitated the subsequent — that is fairly loopy.”
Residing in denial
These had been the years the place Zenay admitted she was dwelling “in denial,” working 100 hours per week as a paralegal.
“I [attributed] all of the ache I used to be feeling to emphasize,” Zenay mentioned. “After which at some point, all of the signs manifested; I awoke and could not transfer. I needed to be rushed to the hospital. They did all this testing and located I had six autoimmune ailments: rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s illness, Sjogren’s syndrome, hyperlipidemia, combined connective tissue illness and scleroderma — and was instructed I used to be ‘borderline lupus.'” Inside six weeks, in 2004, they instructed her she had full-blown lupus.
Altering her life
Zenay has been drastically affected by lupus and her autoimmune ailments. “The ache can go from my toes to my fingers after which my whole physique. It actually varies with every day, some days are milder than others.” To fight her lupus flares, she makes use of a mix of western and japanese medication/various remedies, together with turmeric, lemon and autoimmune herbs along with prescribed drugs. “My finest buddy is a sizzling water bottle!”
Whereas Zenay was in a New York hospital, Tichina was working in Los Angeles, dwelling together with her new child lady, Alijah.
“I might get all the data through the phone, with the docs. I knew it was unhealthy. Zenay was neglecting digging into what was happening. She thought they had been simply going to provide her some treatment and that is it. You hope that it isn’t going to be as unhealthy as it’s.”
Together with her mother wanting to maneuver cross nation so she might assist care for Alijah, Tichina knew it was time for Zenay to come back as properly. “I really do not assume she would have survived, staying in that sort of [cold] local weather.”
Zenay now lives in California, works with Tichina and has marveled at how her diseases have been a blessing to the Arnold sisters in some methods.
“Previous to my prognosis, Tichina and I had been dwelling separate lives . . . I had no plans to maneuver to California. I really imagine that my ailments and Alijah’s delivery introduced my sister and I collectively,” Zenay defined.
“And now right here we’re, years later, Tichina and I are working collectively; I’m her supervisor and we’ve our personal manufacturing firm and have a number of writing tasks. We are actually one another’s finest associates.”
Tichina, too, has been profoundly moved by Zenay’s well being experiences and desires to do no matter she will to make her really feel good.
“We now have achieved a lot analysis to determine how finest to deal with what was taking place. The household have all stepped as much as the plate as a way to take care of her sickness . . . drive Zenay to medical appointments, change her garments, give her drugs and put her to mattress . . . no matter burden we are able to bear in order that she would not should,” Tichina mentioned.
We Win Basis
Whereas the Arnold sisters have a robust household of help, not everyone seems to be that lucky. For this reason Tichina and Zenay created the We Win Basis.
“Our urgent goal is to be a supply of consolation, hope and knowledge for the uninformed and underserved who are suffering from lupus,” Tichina mentioned. “There are actually folks dying by themselves from this illness. We simply wish to be certain that we follow what we preach and share what we’ve discovered and have been by means of. It is undoubtedly not a simple street.”
One in every of their basis’s initiatives is The Egocentric Venture, a web-based program that teaches ladies who are suffering from autoimmune ailments learn how to follow self-care and take time to rejuvenate and scale back stress ranges.
“We would like ladies to know they don’t seem to be alone,” Zenay enthused. “Regardless of how exhausting, scary and lonely it will get, there’s all the time somebody praying for them.”
Zenay strives to maintain a constructive outlook, giving hope to the quite a few folks she has helped. “I’ve a illness for day-after-day of the week! As my uncle says, we want comedy with the tragedy,” she mentioned with a smile.
Lupus Basis of America