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Janice Freeman, a Sjögren’s patient who competed on season 13 of NBC's The Voice in 2017, passed away on Saturday, March 3, due to combined complications of lupus and a bronchial infection according to Freeman's rep. 

Freeman, a married mother of one who was on Miley Cyrus's team and reached the top 11 on the singing contest series, had battled many health issues throughout her life, including lupus and Sjögren’s.

Sjögren’s is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body, including the respiratory system. According to the recent February issue of SSF’s member newsletter, The Moisture Seekers, 20-50% of patients with Sjögren’s will have respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath, cough), but some patients at mild stages of disease may have no symptoms. The management of respiratory complications of Sjögren’s thus requires a multi-disciplinary effort with close collaboration between the rheumatologist and the pulmonologist, and often also a chest radiologist and chest pathologist. 

The Foundation is currently working on phase 2 of the SSF Sjögren’s Rheumatology and Oral Clinical Practice Guidelines, which will include pulmonary complications. As a Sjögren’s patient, remember that just because a symptom can’t be seen easily, it is still important to tell your doctor and have them monitor its progression. If you feel that a physician dismisses your Sjögren’s symptoms, help educate them and/or find another physician. Click here to learn more about becoming an SSF member to receive our newsletter and support the vital work of the Foundation.

The Sjögren’s  Syndrome Foundation is truly saddened by the loss of this gifted singer and Sjögren’s patient. Our thoughts are with her husband and daughter and extended family.

Janice Freeman