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View Full Version : Oh no, I'm turning white!


chagrin
12-18-2007, 10:35 AM
Feel kinda bad for Lee, but still - I would be interested in reading his book about it. I used to watch him every day on Fox 2 Detroit when I lived up there...I don't suppose he's gaining the benfits that Eddie Murphy got when he "turned white" for a goof on SNL, heh.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/12/18/turning.white.ap/index.html



DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- Lee Thomas' skin is betraying him.


Lee Thomas uses creams and makeup to cover his growing patches of colorless skin.

1 of 2 His once brown, even complexion is now mottled with pale patches around his eyes and mouth, along his nose and on his ears; his arms, shoulders and chest are speckled and blotched.

"I'm a black man turning white on television and people can see it," says Thomas, an anchor and entertainment reporter for the local Fox Broadcasting Company affiliate. "If you've watched me over the years, you've seen my hands completely change from brown to white."

Thomas has vitiligo, a disorder in which pigment-making cells are destroyed. White patches appear on different parts of the body, tissues in the mouth and nose, and the retina.

"There is no cause. There is no cure, and it's very random," Thomas says. "I could turn all the way white or mostly white."

As many as 65 million people worldwide have the disorder, including up to 2 million in the United States.

Few people, outside medical professionals and those with the disease, had heard the term "vitiligo" until Michael Jackson revealed in the early 1990s that the disorder was behind his skin turning brown to white.

It's not fatal, but experts say vitiligo robs people of self-confidence, evokes ridicule and unpleasant stares, and pushes some into unforced seclusion.

Speaking out

The 40-year-old Thomas says that's not where the disorder needs to be. He openly talks about vitiligo and how it has affected his life and career, and has written a book about his journey titled "Turning White: A Memoir of Change." Along the way, Thomas says he's met others with the disorder and has become a celebrity spokesman for the Columbus, Ohio-based National Vitiligo Foundation.

Vitiligo attacks the soul and psyche, foundation executive director Robert Haas says.

"When was the last time you saw someone with vitiligo handling your food? It is the public's image that it is some leprosy-type of disease," he says. "A lot of folks feel this disease has trapped them and kept them away from their life goals."

That was Thomas' fear.

He uses a combination of creams and makeup to cover the growing patches of skin -- which he calls devoid of color -- on his face, hands and arms. Viewers, co-workers and, for years, his basketball buddies, were none the wiser.

Only family members and those closest to him knew the secret he had kept since age 25.

Thomas first noticed a change after getting a haircut while working in Louisville, Kentucky. He looked in a mirror and thought the barber had nicked him. A closer look revealed a pale spot, about the size of a quarter.

"I got two more on the other side of my scalp, on my hand and one in the corner of my mouth," he recalls in an interview from the station's studio. "That's when I went to the doctor and got diagnosed."

He didn't let it slow down his blossoming career. From Louisville, he soon landed at WABC in New York for three years beginning in 1994. After a short freelancing stint in Los Angeles, California, Thomas found his way to WJBK in Detroit, Michigan, in 1997. He has carved a niche in the Motor City market with his quirky, upbeat and humorous reporting style; his confidence, constant smile and positive air on the set mirrors his demeanor off the set as well.

Opening up

Even though Thomas uses makeup to conceal his skin discoloration, he realized the vitiligo was becoming more obvious when he couldn't hide it from a preschooler during a story about a playground. His two-toned hands frightened the girl, who began to cry.

"I thought my career was over," says the Emmy award winner who routinely travels to Hollywood for one-on-one interviews with celebrities including Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Halle Berry.

So he gathered himself one day and approached the station's news director, prepared to walk away from television.

"She said, 'Let's just see what happens,"' Thomas recalls. "As it got worse, she kept encouraging me to tell my story."

Dana Hahn, WJBK's vice president of news, says the station was concerned about Thomas possibly leaving because of the condition.

"Lee is also a friend and we wanted to help," she says. "He had covered it up so well, we really didn't realize the impact it was having or how far it had spread."

Thomas finally agreed to tell his story on television in November 2005.

After the first segment on Thomas' vitiligo aired, Hahn says he took a leave of absence and missed the initial response from viewers.

Surprisingly, Thomas gives vitiligo some credit.

"Having this disease forces me to focus on what I am: kind, caring, honest," he says. "There are people who have diseases that will kill them." E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

pr_capone
12-18-2007, 10:41 AM
pic

http://media.kcby.com/images/071217_Lee_Thomas_2.jpg

Pushead2
12-18-2007, 10:45 AM
ouch

jjjayb
12-18-2007, 11:16 AM
He's almost due for that big promotion.

chagrin
12-18-2007, 11:21 AM
pic

http://media.kcby.com/images/071217_Lee_Thomas_2.jpg

http://tinyurl.com/22cmv8

|Zach|
12-18-2007, 11:51 AM
Thats really interesting I had never heard of that.

pr_capone
12-18-2007, 11:53 AM
Thats really interesting I had never heard of that.

:spock:

Had you not heard about Michael Jackson with the same thing?

Where is your rock and how far under it do you go?

LOL

JBucc
12-18-2007, 12:02 PM
Mutant!

Sully
12-18-2007, 12:09 PM
Am I horrible for STILL not believing Michael jackson has this disease?

tooge
12-18-2007, 12:11 PM
this disease is actually not too rare. I have seen it some. It is always splotchy like that. Michael Jackson is full of shit. He just didn't want to be black. Sucks for this newsguy though. Unless of course he wants to be a white guy

Otter
12-18-2007, 12:14 PM
I told my brother to lay off the Barry Manilow music while watching Friends. One or the other but never both at the same time.

Fish
12-18-2007, 12:33 PM
this disease is actually not too rare. I have seen it some. It is always splotchy like that. Michael Jackson is full of shit. He just didn't want to be black. Sucks for this newsguy though. Unless of course he wants to be a white guy

Really? Because I chuckled at the following quote...

"When was the last time you saw someone with vitiligo handling your food? It is the public's image that it is some leprosy-type of disease,"

Handle my food? I've never even heard of the disease let alone seen anybody with it. And why would I care whether they handled my food? Is it going to take the color out of my steak? Will I catch it and turn purple? Should this be stressing me out.......?

kepp
12-18-2007, 12:35 PM
Disease? I don't know. I think he drank too much, passed out, and his friends went crazy with a whiteout marker.

88TG88
12-18-2007, 12:37 PM
There was a girl at my school who had the exact same thing. She seemed ok with it.

Ecto-I
12-18-2007, 01:00 PM
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y227/mitshu/vitiligo3.jpg

Hmmm... :hmmm:

Valiant
12-18-2007, 01:31 PM
Thats really interesting I had never heard of that.


What?? You mean 65million worldwide and 2 million people in the US have it and you have never heard of it.. Get out of the house...

ROFL

Chiefmanwillcatch
12-18-2007, 02:06 PM
Dating white women now!

dream come true!

Lancetastic
12-18-2007, 02:55 PM
I have it, but only mildly and I'm pretty pasty so you can hardly tell in the winter.

Sully
12-18-2007, 03:01 PM
First in with:

I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi.

chagrin
12-18-2007, 03:15 PM
I have ben served with a person with what appeared to be vitiligo; I am so tired of people claiming to speak for "the public" or "the people".

Not everyone associates vitiligo with Leprocy, geesh.

chagrin
12-18-2007, 03:16 PM
What?? You mean 65million worldwide and 2 million people in the US have it and you have never heard of it.. Get out of the house...

ROFL

Dude, he can only handle 1 cause at a time, give him a break.

kepp
12-18-2007, 03:26 PM
First in with:

I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi.
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b78/Yankee4Life711/SteveMartinAsTheJerk.jpg