Tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m a 63-year-old retired editor living in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I’m a mother of three, grandmother of two. I fit some of the stereotypes about women of my age. I knit, I have two cats (and a dog), but I defy some of those stereotypes as well: I’m politically progressive and love science fiction.
When did you first learn you had these skin conditions?
It started with a strange patch of scaly skin, about the diameter of a plum, above and behind my ankle. A disinterested elderly dermatologist told my it was caused by irritation from my boot. It wasn’t, and I knew it. I was 17. The patch got bigger, until I covered it with dressings and left it strictly alone. It faded away eventually, but for 20 years afterward, that patch of skin would get bright red, hot, and itchy, and I knew if I touched it, it would come roaring back.
Five years later, I developed tiny blisters on my fingers, starting at the tips and spreading to the palms of my hands. I’ve had psoriasis on my hands ever since. Briefly I had it on the soles of my feet. That disappeared, and five years ago it reappeared between my toes. A second, younger dermatologist treated me for eczema, until I told her I had it on my scalp. “Your diagnosis has changed. You have psoriasis.” That was 40 years ago. Many people have it worse. My psoriasis is very visible on my hands. There's no disguising it. I use lotions and am unashamed.
Do you believe there will be a cure for psoriasis or eczema in the next 25 years?
I’m hopeful and ever the optimist. I’m grateful for biological treatments. I have also been diagnosed with Crohns and ankylosing spondylitis, two other autoimmune diseases. Remicade was amazing for my AS but had no effect on my skin or gut, and I developed antibodies. Enbrel and Humira did nothing for me. I’m currently taking Stelara monthly for Crohns. It has totally stabilized my gut issues and has helped my skin about 50 percent but does nothing for my AS. It’s a juggling act.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about living with psoriasis and eczema? How has it impacted your life?
I haven’t received any advice, but I would like to offer some. Find a good doctor, and be defiant. Live your life. Don’t let it get you down.
If there were one thing you’d want every psoriasis or eczema patient to know, what would that be?
Keep trying. If one treatment doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t give up. Don’t despair.