Vicki Lawrence wears a lot of hats as an actress, comedienne, musician, game show host and more. From her time on “The Carroll Burnett Show” and “Mama’s Family” to recent guest spots on “Hannah Montana”, Lawrence’s generation spanning career as a sitcom star has made her a household name that always keeps audiences laughing. In 2010, Lawrence was diagnosed with chronic idiopathic urticarial (CIU). CIU is a form of chronic hives that has no known cause, but almost 1.5 million Americans suffer from the disease. Donning yet another hat as the face of the CIU & You campaign, Lawrence wants to make sure that Americans with CIU know how to identify the disease and get the right treatment. I had the opportunity to talk to Vicki Lawrence and Dr. Beth Corn about the important work they are doing to let people with CIU know that they are not alone.
When asked what she thinks the biggest change in television has been during her long career, Vicki Lawrence did not hesitate with her answer: “Reality TV, don’t you think?” Her fast response is characteristic of her proven ability to be quick on her feet that helps her in life and on the improv stage. Hives have never interfered with Lawrence’s career, but her experience with CIU has inspired her to reach out to other people confused by and suffering from the disease.
Joining the conversation was Dr. Beth Corn. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine and a Board Certified Allergist practicing in New York City. In addition to her 20 years of experience in healthcare, she is also a board member of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). CIU & You was developed in partnership with the AAFA and made possible by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Genentech, and Dr. Corn added her medical perspective on CIU to the conversation.
Dr. Corn explained that CIU can be broken down to simpler terms: chronic (six weeks or more) idiopathic (no cause) urticarial (hives). She stressed that CIU needs to be treated by a specialist or dermatologist, and the main goal of CIU & You is to encourage anyone experiencing the symptoms to reach out for proper medical help.
Lawrence’s personal CIU story began when her hands started itching. “The initial reaction is ‘I’ve done something wrong,’” she said about an outbreak of hives. “It’s hard to accept that there is no cause,” she continued in reference to the fact that no change in things like diet or detergent can cure CIU. Lawrence wants to direct people who are looking for answers to visit the CIU & You website, track their symptoms, and get to an allergist or dermatologist for treatment.
The sitcom star decided to use her familiarity and approachable demeanor with fans to bring awareness to CIU. She says that she is “happy to put her face on the website if it makes people comfortable. We want to help people get to the right specialist.”
Dr. Corn is thrilled that Lawrence has partnered with CIU & You. “She makes it so much more real,” she said. “It lets people with CIU feel like they’re not alone.”
The CIU & You website offers a downloadable symptom tracker and discussion guide for patients to use when discussing CIU with their dermatologist or allergist. You can visit the website here.
As for where you can expect to see Vicki Lawrence next, she is currently on the road with the stage production “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show.” While she continues to charm audiences across the country with her wit, Vicki Lawrence’s work with CIU & You certainly proves that there is a lot more than one side to this extremely talented woman.