You've probably seen or heard more of singer-songwriter/actress LeAnn Rimes lately, if not on the radio belting out one of her well-known country-music tunes in that amazing voice of hers, then on TV - she sang the National Anthem during the Final Four basketball game between Butler and UConn earlier this month. Or you've possibly read about her life in the tabloids given she's engaged to actor Eddie Cibrian. She's also one of the more active celebrity "tweeters" on Twitter.
What you may not know about LeAnn is that she's involved in helping educate others about psoriasis, which she personally has dealt with since early childhood. Awhile back I had the opportunity to interview LeAnn as she got involved with the awareness campaign called "Stop Hiding from Psoriasis." The campaign aimed to not only raise awareness of the disease to non-sufferers, but to help sufferers to better understand their disease and to be proactive about getting effective treatment.
The national awareness campaign was funded by the pharmaceutical company Abbott, and run by the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Psoriasis Foundation. Abbott makes Humira, a biologic approved for several diseases, including moderate-to-severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Having psoriasis myself and knowing what an emotional and physical toll it can take, I was curious to know how LeAnn managed the disease, particularly given her high-profile career in the spotlight.
"I definitely thought it would be the end of the world for anyone to know," LeAnn admitted to me. "But it's been quite the opposite. People come up to me all the time and thank me. They tell me they have it or know someone who does. There are so many people who don't know what it is. I just wanted to start educating the whole world about it."
LeAnn's skin has been clear for more than five years. Prior to that, psoriasis covered 80 percent of her body, she said.
"I felt like I found the right treatment," she said, adding that she had tried numerous other treatments, from coal tar body wraps and pills to ultra-violet light boxes and injections.
While she wouldn't divulge the exact kind of treatment that's cleared her - she believes that each psoriasis patient may respond differently to the various treatments available - she did express confidence in the array of medications now on the market.
"I encourage people to go out and find what works for them," she said. "Find a good doctor. I think that's the key part of the treatment - being honest with your doctor about what's working and what's not. The medicine I found gave me hope that there is a treatment for everyone out there."
Through our chat, we discover a shared passion for running. It's been my saving grace through the past several years, as a busy working mom of three and also when psoriasis has at times covered as much as 90 percent of my body. Running, as well as other forms of exercise, get LeAnn through her busy schedule of writing songs, recording (she released her latest album in the past year) and performing.