May I tell you why I have an increased predisposition for Psoriatic Arthritis, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Hypertension and Obesity? I have Psoriasis. “Pso What?!” – You ask?
My skin, the largest organ of my body is malfunctioning. I have a chronic autoimmune disease that unfortunately also plagues 7.5 million Americans.
I used to be a competitive swimmer. I was always very social. I took pride in doing things for myself. At my worst, I had open lesions on 60% of my body. No longer could I enjoy swimming because my skin was no longer a protective covering, it was a sponge. I withdrew from many social activities and turned into a hermit. The nights were sleepless. The once smaller lesions joined together to form continents on my legs, arms and torso. Every movement was in pain. No one really thinks about how the skin stretches and contracts as we move about, until you get hit by the worst Psoriasis flare up. I lost my “normal”.
Today I volunteer as a Support Network Leader for the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) because I want to give back what they have given me – Hope. At my first few NPF events I met many warriors. We fight this disease every day and we have the battle scars to prove it. At my very first Support Network meeting, before I got a chance to introduce myself, they already knew me. Many of our experiences are identical. It was like coming home.
There has been some publicity stemming from the entertainment industry. Singer, LeAnn Rimes and America’s Top Model winner, CarrieDee English who both have Psoriasis, have brought awareness to our illness by lending their celebrity to our cause. June of 2009 Cameron Diaz showed her (psoriasis) spots. Celebrity Trainer, Jackie Warner has put together a fitness and nutrition program for us. Famed fashion consultant Tim Gunn has taken on the Addressing Psoriasis project. Most recently, prior to the 2010 Golf open, golf pro Phil Mickelson experienced severe joint pain. He now currently campaigns for awareness of Psoriatic Arthritis. Comedian Jon Lovitz has opened up about his Psoriasis with a series “Are You Serious?” public service announcements.
Psoriasis has such stigma that comes along with it. We have been called many names: Spot, Flakey, Leper, names which has caused many of us to hide our disease by covering up, which is workable during the cooler months, yet make the supposedly fun and carefree summer months unbearable. We no longer want to be made fun of, and stared at. Psoriasis is not contagious, but Awareness Is!
Psoriasis is the nation’s most prevalent autoimmune disease. It is a “genetic, chronic, inflammatory, painful, disfiguring and life-altering disease that requires life-long, sophisticated medical intervention and care,” (Source: Written Testimony to the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee). I want to share my story, identical to the experiences of 7.5 million Americans of all races and all ages. By doing so, I hope to increase awareness about the disease because many kids in school could use one less bully; at the gym or locker room it is perfectly safe for you to be showering alongside us. Those of us, who show the symptoms, need a little compassion. It is time we recognized Psoriasis for what it really is – more than skin deep.
There are numerous valuable programs sponsored by the National Psoriasis Foundation that is a great benefit for people who have Psoriasis. The Support Network for Inland Empire meets in Loma Linda. The next meeting is on May 22, 2011. There is a One to One mentoring program for those who need a more personalized approach. An educational event called Current Psoriasis Treatments and Research will be held on the 12th of March at UC Irvine. The Walk to Cure Psoriasis will be on the 30th of April, in Santa Monica, and all are invited to come help us spread awareness and raise funds for a cure.
You are in a position to reach the masses. Please pass along my story. Together we can make a difference.
Walk to Cure Psoriasis:
When: April 30, 2011
Where: Ocean View Park, 2701 Barnard Way, Santa Monica, Calif. 90405
Registration at 9:00 a.m.; walks begin at 10:00 a.m.
1K (.62 mi) and 5K (3.1 mi) Walks
Registration is free online and on site! All ages welcome.
Questions? Contact: Walk Coordinator, 877.825.WALK (9255) or firstname.lastname@example.org. I am part of the Walk Committee and can also answer questions.
To be part of or make a donation on behalf of the Support Network Walk Team: http://walk.psoriasis.org/goto/lasupport