Look Good, Even When You Don’t Feel Good

Dressing to the nines, with embellished bags for her portable oxygen tank, and gorgeous gloves to protect fingers damaged by disease, has helped heal Lovette Russell of Atlanta, GA, as she lives with two incurable illnesses.

Diagnosed a decade ago with scleroderma and polymyositis, both unpredictable autoimmune conditions, and pulmonary fibrosis, the wife, mom of two grown boys, philanthropist, nonprofit advisor and former triathlete believes that when you look good, you feel good.

She does. And she doesn’t.

Muscle weakness from the polymyositis makes it hard for Lovette to even sit in a chair and hold her head up. And the scleroderma has triggered a life-threatening buildup of scar tissue in her lungs.

That’s why Lovette’s can’t-live-without fashion accessory is an oxygen cannula.

“People think sick people should look sick, but that’s just not the way I roll,” Lovette said. “That’s not the way I walk out the door. I make sure that I walk out looking a whole lot better than I really do feel.”

Philanthropy means the world to Lovette and her husband, Michael, lifelong Atlanta residents.

Some mornings, it takes enormous effort for Lovette to get out of bed, brush her teeth, and put on her clothes. But you’d never know it from looking at her.

Maybe it’s the gloves, that protect Lovette’s hands from the effects of Raynaud’s disease, secondary to scleroderma.

Raynaud’s reduces circulation, to the point that Lovette has lost the tip of her right forefinger.

“When you wear gloves, you end up looking a little bit dressier,” Lovette said. “So I had to take my dresses to another level. And my shoes, too.”

Lovette lost the tip of her forefinger to Raynaud’s disease. But she still rocks the platforms.

Lovette’s heels are magnificent. “I don’t have any shame in my game that I wear three or four-inch heels, with my cannula in to breathe,” she said.

But there are limits. “I never wear shoes that hurt my feet,” Lovette said. “I have enough discomfort in my life already. I don’t need for my feet to be hurting, too.”

Lovette said her sons, Michael and Benji, tease her that she is wearing their inheritance. But they also push their mom to keep going and keep moving.

And she has. Lovette’s work includes serving on the Board of Trustees at Spelman College, her alma mater, and leading a campaign to expand Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding.

In 2016, the facility where she was born was named the Lovette Twyman Russell Emergency Center, in her honor.

“I am always looking at what I have in my life that is a blessing,” Lovette said. “If I have to leave this planet tomorrow, I can tell you I feel so good about where I am.”

Not that she is planning to go anywhere: “This doesn’t mean I want to die tomorrow,” she said. “I want another 50 years. But I’m at this perfect point in my life.”

Watch Lovette Russell’s Video

  • Tricia

    *Lovette (autocorrect…. But don’t sweat the small stuff, right?)

  • Tricia Fletcher

    And here I thought it was just me…. I have thrown myself back into “looking cute” and being the best I can be from the inside out! I am taking the time to color my hair, tan my skin (from a bottle, just like my “blonde” hair), re-learn makeup and get tips from YouTube vids from the best of the best! My gosh, what did we do before the internet? These young people don’t even know how GOOD they got it!

    But indeed, Lovett! I concur! You do you, girl and keep being beautiful inside and out! If only we could all aspire to be a beautiful as you!

    P.S. I think ppl tend to think I am somehow “morbid” bc I often say, and sometimes it is to the paramedic on my latest ride in my often “limousine,” LOOK! If I died tomorrow, I’m OK with that! I have lived an amazingly fulfilled life! I have lived many lives, more than Morris the cat all rolled up into my 50+ years! I could not have asked for more! Now, what keeps me going is my family, mostly my daughter and leaving my legacy! God’s not done with me yet!

  • Marge

    Excellent attitude, drive, and role model. You’re a beautiful woman, inside and out. God Bless you, and may you love another 50 years.
    You’re an inspiration. ?

  • Louise Hockenson

    You are an inspiration! Many prayers going out for you.

  • Ann Ledbetter

    Love reading this….praying for comfort and healing .
    I have Raynaud’s and can feel your pain.

  • Brenda Rauser

    I was just recently diagnosed with scleroderma which has caused pulminory arterial hypertension. I have had raynauds for over ten years. I am overwhelmed with all the information about what is going to happen to my heart and lungs. It’s just heartbreaking knowing there’s nothing anyone can do to stop the progression. Most days I want to stay in bed and cry.

  • Teresa Renecker

    You are truly an amazing lady! Thanks for sharing your story God bless you!