Queen Latifah and Her Family Struggle with Scleroderma

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by Patricia Silva PhD |

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Queen Latifah and Her Family Struggle with Scleroderma

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Bob Saget is a well-recognized comedian, TV host, and actor. But what one might not know is that he is also an advocate for scleroderma. How and why did he become involved with scleroderma?

Talk-show host, singer, and actress Queen Latifah can be proud of her many achievements. But lately, she’s been proud of something quite different — her mother’s strength in dealing with the disease scleroderma. Queen Latifah’s mother, Rita Owens, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 2013.

Queen Latifah — also a business woman and cover girl who has been nominated for Oscar and Emmy awards — has been focused on praising her mother’s fight as well as on raising awareness for scleroderma. The mother and daughter duo were featured on the cover on People magazine, after Queen gained a new role of caregiver after the diagnosis of Owens with scleroderma in 2013 at the age of 63.

According to the Scleroderma Foundation, while there is no proven cure for scleroderma, much can be done to prevent, minimize or alleviate its effects and symptoms. 

“Anyone who has a job and then has a family member at home who is ill, it’s 24 hours. You have to be there. They need you,” said Queen Latifah in a 2014 interview to People. “I try to be as in the moment and as present as possible. And then I try to get some sleep and go to work and be present there and then go home and be present there,” said the actress, who sought the help of family members and friends for the times while she is at work.

“It’s not a day or night that she doesn’t peek her head in my room and make sure I’m OK,” said Owens, who worked as a high school teacher before retiring. “If it’s medical she’ll go in and grill the doctors and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. She sacrifices her time, her resources. She genuinely loves me and I know that.”

After her diagnosis with the scleroderma, an incurable autoimmune condition that results in the formation of scar tissue in the skin and internal organs, Owens also found that she suffers from pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. Due to these problems, she has difficulties breathing properly. To show her support, Queen Latifah recently entered the American Heart Association’s “Red Steps Challenge.”

“It’s just a way for us to show support for all of those people who are dealing with the condition and those who care for them,” Queen told ABC News. The idea is to post photos walking and wearing red socks to raise awareness about the symptoms and risks of heart disease. With the approval and support of her mother, Queen Latifah joined the campaign and became the spokesperson of the broader “Rise Above Heart Failure” campaign, funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Last December, Scleroderma News featured a video from the “Queen Latifah Show” with Queen and her mother in a touching moment with the family. Owens thought she was on Queen Latifah’s show to thank the doctors who have been helping her battle scleroderma, but she was also invited so that Queen Latifah and the family could thank her for her strength and inspiring attitude.Watch the video here.

Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.