A new chapter for Lee Thomas and his struggle with Vitiligo - KMSP-TV

A new chapter for Lee Thomas and his struggle with Vitiligo

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Fox 2's Lee Thomas Fox 2's Lee Thomas
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Fox 2's Lee Thomas told the world about his struggle with vitiligo a few years ago. Now after searching to find a treatment for the medical condition, he has finally found something that is working. This is his inspiring update.

I have a disease called vitiligo. Over the years, my skin pigment had been slowly leaving until at one point it was all the way gone, but it is coming back.

2005 was the first time I shared my story on TV. It was a tough decision, and the story made national news.

Two years after that, "Turning White," the memoir I had written, was released, and that made international news.

I began a support group and went on several TV and radio shows all over the world. That was the start of something that continues today.

It seems like I spend a lot of time in airports. I have become an advocate for vitiligo patients and a motivational speaker sharing my story around the world.

I have traveled from San Diego to Miami, from Spain to England and even to Russia. I attended the Second Russian Congress of Dermatology where I shared my story with doctors and experts from all over the world hoping to help them understand the importance of finding a cure and the struggle of people with vitiligo.

However, my schedule continued to be hectic, and the pigment continued to leave until I found a doctor in Germany who was known for repigmentation.

In a small, but beautiful town in Germany, Dr. Karen Schallreuter from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders at the University of Greifswald met me when I was almost 30 pounds overweight and my pigment was almost gone. She gave me hope.

By the time I got back home to begin treatment, my pigment was gone. Putting on makeup became a laborious chore, and the man in the mirror was a white version of me.

After a trip to the Dead Sea in Amman, Jordan as part of the doctor's treatment, something started to happen when I returned. Someone asked me if I threw mud on my face, but the pigment was coming back. Six months later, there was more.

So the pigment is coming back, and I am torn with emotion. I am happy to see the man in the mirror make a slow and triumph return back to me, but I am sad to see him go. I feel like I am losing the brave and compassionate and understanding man that I have become.

The support group I started is still going strong. I have become a motivational speaker with a story that is much bigger than this disease, and I have a beautiful daughter that makes my day every time.

However, it is a tough struggle as I continue to fight for people around the world who use my story as inspiration or people who live with this disease so that they do not have to face the ignorance and intolerance like a phone call I got last week.

"You're not going to like what I got to say, but I'm going to say it. You need to go back to your natural look. You look like a freak. It's unreal ... It's not natural," said the anonymous caller. "You're just plain freaky ... You scare people."

I shared a little bit of that three minute phone message with you not to spread hate, but to help you understand the point. It is not about how many times someone knocks you down with their words or their actions. It is about how many times you get up and find a way to help your fellow man by living your life, sharing and helping in a positive way.

You can help the cause by going to the Vitiligo Research Foundation website 25June.org and signing a petition to the United Nations for global recognition of World Vitiligo Day.

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