Apr. 03, 2012

Hollywood Phenom Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon Fights Lupus

New story highlights how she found support through her all-star network of friends and family

Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon has done it all--actress, singer, dancer, and television writer and producer. The 36 year-old Hollywood phenom started out as a singer during her teen years for a Motown band, and has gone on to write, act, and produce for shows, such as Fox’s Dollhouse, Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, and the widely successful Web series, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. But another one of her many titles: a person living with lupus. Diagnosed with lupus as a teenager, it wasn’t until 2011 that this self-described “Lupus Warrior Princess” decided to face her disease one step at a time with the people who loved and supported her most.

A new story published by the Lupus Foundation of America highlights how Maurissa- also known as Mo to her friends –fought back against her disease and found support through her all-star network of friends and family. What started out as a bright red rash in her teen years manifested into central nervous system lupus, which affects the brain and nervous system, then pulmonary vasculitis and now, as lupus nephritis. Enduring chemotherapy, kidney failure, and fatigue among many other symptoms of the disease, Mo admitted that she, at times, felt alone.

“There have been times when I’ve succumbed to feeling hopeless or just plain angry about all of it. And alone,” Tancharoen wrote on her blog (since deleted), “then there are moments like these that remind me that I’m not alone.”

That moment came via an email from a friend asking Mo if she could start a team for the Los Angeles Walk to End Lupus Now, aptly named “Club Mo”. Mo’s family rallied quickly to join the walk team, including her brother Kevin Tancharoen, director of 2009’s Fame and 2011’s Glee: The 3D Concert Movie and brother-in-law, Joss Whedon, best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, and Dollhouse. Emails, social media, and word-of-mouth encouraged celebrity friends of Mo and her husband, Jed Whedon, to register to walk and reach out to their fans to donate money to support lupus research. Felicia Day, star of the Web series, The Guild, Eliza Dushku of Buffy and Dollhouse, and Nathan Fillion from ABC’s Castle, and of Firelfy, Dr. Horrible and Buffy fame were among those that supported Club Mo and helped raised nearly $80,000.

“This is the other power of the Lupus Walk,” says Joss Whedon. “The battle for new drugs continues. People see that. They aren’t stopping.”