Mindset Coach With Rare Autoimmune Disorder Takes Her Own Advice On Journey To Remission



Bestselling author, speaker, and mindset coach Laura Gassner Otting put her own advice to the test during her recovery from acute symptoms of pityriasis rubra pilaris, a rare autoimmune disorder.
After a years-long struggle to discover what was making her sick, and how to heal, she is reclaiming her life and gearing up to run the TCS London Marathon for charity in April.
Gassner Otting developed a dry, hacking cough in November 2020, but after more than a dozen negative COVID tests, the cough just wouldn’t go away, taking her from the top of her game to her bed. Six weeks after her cough began, Gassner Ottings fingertips started to peel and a rash appeared on her shoulders and arms. Her life force drained as she desperately researched her symptoms, and she could no longer recognize herself.
As she suffered painful welts, weight gain, and insomnia, she spent hours in bed making mental lists of videos to leave for her children to mark their important milestones, because she believed she wouldnt live to see them
Gassner Otting underwent one chest X-ray, four biopsies, and 32 blood tests before finally finding a specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Sobel, who understood what was happening. He told her she was one of just 800 people in the U.S. with a rare inflammatory disorder called pityriasis rubra pilaris. The condition has no known cause.
The author of “Wonderhell: Why Success Doesnt Feel Like It Should… and What to Do About It,” “Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life,” and “Mission-Drive: Moving from Profit to Purpose,” put her own advice to the test and put in the work to recover, with no guarantee of success.
She started down a path of experimental and off-label treatments tested for other diseases, without knowing whether they would work — or whether she would have an adverse reaction. With the help of Sobel and her longtime dermatologist, Dr. Rachel Herschenfeld, she was on her way to recovery in 2022, with her last IV in remission taking place in October.
“What even is remission in a disease where no one fully understands the cause?” Gassner Otting said. “We only have only two choices: live in fear of it, or live in spite of it.”
Over the course of her 25-year career, Gassner Otting went from Presidential Appointee in Bill Clintons White House to entrepreneurship, to bestselling author of three books, and now she’s committed to giving back. She has helped build a local Montessori school, co-founded a womens philanthropic initiative, advised a new national womens PAC, and grew a citizen-leadership development program.
She says the experience of being diagnosed with a rare disease, and searching for answers and healing, reiterated the importance of access to good healthcare. Now, she’s preparing to run the TCS London Marathon in April to raise money for Boston Childrens Hospital, a charity close to her heart and her home.
Gassner Otting now shares the lessons she learned on her journey with pityriasis rubra pilaris, along with her wide-ranging work experiences, with clients and audiences as an executive coach and speaker. She inspires audiences to develop the confidence needed to take on big challenges by helping them find new ways of leading, managing, and mentoring others.
TMX contributed to this article.