Rapper-turned-Tv personality Queen Latifah has gone public with her mother's battle with autoimmune disease scleroderma, insisting the diagnosis has brought them closer.

The hip-hop star's mum, Rita Owens, has been struggling with ill health for some time and reports last year (13) suggested the 64 year old was fighting lung cancer.

Latifah denied the rumours, only stating her mother had "gone through some medical challenges", but now she reveals Owens has actually been struggling with the incurable condition scleroderma, which has caused scar tissue to build up in the lungs, resulting in high blood pressure and excess fibrous connective tissue, which has made it hard for her to breathe.

Latifah claims the false reports were highly insensitive as she had wanted to keep the matter private, telling People magazine, "When you're dealing with someone who's not feeling well, you want to protect them."

However, the star's mother recently decided to open up about her health crisis in a bid to help others who may be dealing with similar struggles, and Latifah, who moved her mum into her California home last year (13) so she could care for her, insists she is "stable" and "doing Ok". She adds, "It's not 100 per cent, but we're treating it and having some results... We've gotten so close this year, with everything we've been going through."

But Latifah's mother has been given a new reason to smile - Owens is engaged to wed her boyfriend Bobby Wise.

Owens says, "I feel better than blessed."