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Home » How I Help People Understand Vitiligo: Lee Thomas (Transcript)

How I Help People Understand Vitiligo: Lee Thomas (Transcript)

Lee Thomas at TED Talks

Best quote from this talk:

“Positivity is something worth fighting for, and the fight is not with others — it’s internal. If you want to make positive changes in your life, you have to consistently be positive.”


When I was young, I wanted to be on TV: the lights, the cameras, the makeup, the glamorous life.

And from my vantage point, just outside of a military base in Lawton, Oklahoma, I didn’t make the distinction between TV reporter or actor. It was all the same to me.

It was either, “Reporting live from Berlin” or “I shall attend her here and woo her with such spirit when she comes.”

It was all special, it was all the spotlight, and I just knew that it was for me.

But somewhere along my journey, life happened. Ah, much better.

I have a disease called vitiligo. It started early in my career. It’s an autoimmune disorder. It’s where it looks like your skin is getting white patches, but it’s actually void of color.

It affects all ethnicities, it affects all ages, all genders, it’s not contagious, it’s not life-threatening, but it is mental warfare. It’s tough.

Now, I was diagnosed with this disease when I was working on “Eyewitness News” in New York City. I was in the biggest city in the country, I was on their flagship station and I was on their top-rated 5 p.m. newscast.

And the doctor looked me right in the eye and said, “You have a disease called vitiligo. It’s a skin disorder where you lose your pigment. There is no cure, but there a-la-la-la-la”.

Charlie Brown’s teacher. He said there is no cure. All I heard was, “My career is over.”

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