Queen Latifah is a busy woman. Talk show host, Cover girl and singer-actress are just some of the accolades on her resume, but perhaps one of the most important is, caretaker.
In an interview with PEOPLE, the Oscar-nominated star revealed that last spring as she was gearing up to star hosting for the Emmy-nominated The Queen Latifah Show, she was also preparing to take on the responsibility of caring for her mother Rita Owens’ medical needs.
“I wasn’t going to do the show unless she came here,” said Latifah. “I knew she was dealing with her health issues sometimes and I would not be able to get to her as easily.”
In 2013, Owens was diagnosed with scleroderma, an incurable autoimmune disease that causes scar tissue build up in her lungs. She also suffers from pulmonary hypertension, which affects her ability to breathe.
Latifah has called on friends and family members to help her juggle her busy schedule and her mother’s medical needs. “Anyone who has a job and then has a family member at home who is ill, its 24 hours. You have to be there. They need you,” said Latifah. “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.”
“It’s not a day or night that she doesn’t peek her head in my room and make sure I’m okay,” said Owens. “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.”
The full story appears in the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands today.