HUFFINGTON POST
01/07/2013 07:43 pm ET

Josh Borrelli, Shawnee High School Basketball Player, Must Go Tanning Daily To Ward Off Rare Disease (VIDEO)

Forget apples. For Josh Borrelli, it's the tanning salon that keeps the doctor away.

The Medford, N.J., high school student has a condition known as Mucha-Habermann disease, an autoimmune disorder for which there is no known cause or cure, but which responds well when exposed daily to ultraviolet light. So, for eight minutes every day, Borrelli hits a tanning bed.

If he doesn't, reports ABC News, he's likely to develop severe lesions all over his body, as well as potentially life-threatening complications.

The disease is so rare that, at the time of his diagnosis in eighth grade, Borrelli was thought to be the only one with Mucha-Habermann in the U.S., reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nevertheless, Borrelli has become an all-star basketball player on the Shawnee High School team, for which he averages close to 20 points per game.

"It's just something he deals with," said Ryan Bodnar, one of Borrelli's friends, according to the Inquirer. "We know what he's going through, but he doesn't let it bother him. It sure hasn't affected his play."

Beyond the points Borrelli consistently puts up, there's an even bigger sign of his triumph: his own tagline, sported on t-shirts at every basketball game. "Fear the Tan," the slogan reads.

UV light has been used to effectively treat Mucha-Habermann since at least as far back as 1985, based on a case report published in 1986 by the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Flickr photo via: Evil Erin

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