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TV Reporter on Why He Uses Makeup to Hide Vitiligo from Viewers [VIDEO]

*Lee Thomas is an Emmy Award-winning entertainment reporter for FOX’s Detroit affiliate who is warmly embraced in Hollywood by A-listers such as George Clooney and Halle Berry. But when he’s not on air, Jordan is seeking treatment for vitiligo, a skin condition that causes the loss of natural pigmentation.

According to goodfullness.com, Lee discovered he suffered from the condition when a barber noticed a patch of light skin on the back of his head during a routine haircut. Prior to that, his mother thought the discoloration was caused by stress, but it wasn’t long before more spots began to appear.

Lee assumed his career was over when doctors told him that his skin was going to continue to change color and that there was no cure for it. After a while, he decided not to accept defeat and instead became an advocate and spokesman for the disease. But Thomas also chose to cover up his two-toned skin while he on the air because he does not want his condition to distract from what he’s reporting. Hear him explain it in the clip above.

Back in 2012, he opened up about why he decided to put his battle with the disease on display each year for World Vitiligo Day.

Scroll down to read what he shared with blacdetroit.com.

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How are you helping to advocate for those with vitiligo?

I work with an international organization that is collecting 500,000 signatures to present to the United Nations. We want to see June 25 designated as World Vitiligo Day, so the name is 25June.org. In some parts of the world like Africa and India, it ruins lives and people are shunned like lepers. We want to bring awareness. Also, because it’s looked at as a cosmetic disease, there are not enough research dollars allocated for promising drugs and insurance companies don’t always cover treatments. We are going to lobby governments to change that.

Why was June 25 chosen?

Michael Jackson died on that date. People still ask me if I believe Michael actually had vitiligo. I absolutely do believe it. He showed it to many in his inside circle. Most people camouflage or hide it, so I’m thinking he may have worn face masks on days he didn’t feel like covering it up with makeup. Also, part of the procedure is to bleach skin to make it uniform, so it’s not farfetched that he would have had bleaching agents.

You say we don’t pick the life plan we end up living?

My sister said of all the stories I’ve told in my television career, this is what I was meant to do. I go around the world speaking, to Italy, Russia, to London. I know how difficult it is to live with this.

This is emotional warfare because everyone looks at you. In the African-American community our color is our strength, so I speak about what we do when that part of our pride has to change. I try to live as an example and ask people to show compassion.

I also speak to conferences of doctors who have never had a patient articulate the struggles the way I do, descriptive and with emotion. I tell them their patients need the emotional support of a group. I started one at Henry Ford Hospital and we have 30 to 60 people each month who come for understanding and support, to know they are not alone.

How do you stay motivated to encourage and educate others?

I’m a motivational speaker, as well, and I’m advocating for understanding. I have a philosophy of endurance and stress that we all have something that makes us different. I’m fighting through it. There are moments I don’t feel like going outside – but they are few and fleeting. That’s no different than dealing with anything else in life, like depression or the death of a loved one.

I believe Michael Jackson suffered in silence and that’s why I told my story in 2007 with my book, “Turning White: A Memoir of Change” [Momentum Books]. Since then thousands of people from all around the world have made contact with me. I have great hope for treatment, maybe not for me—but to help the next person, someone else’s child.

 

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