I am excited to announce the winner of the Being Me in My Own Skin Scholarship, and what better day to do it than on World Psoriasis Day. I would first like to thank each and everyone of you who submitted an application. Although it was a hard decision I had to narrow it down to one well deserving psoriasis conqueror. AND THE WINNER IS…
Tara is a college student at Columbia College Chicago with a major in advertising art direction. She is an active member of the National Psoriasis Foundation. Tara has a strong passion to bring awareness to psoriasis. She has participated in numerous walks for a cure and is now a youth ambassador for the 2013 Walk to Cure Psoriasis. Tara is a true example of what it means to be a Psoriasis Superhero! With her hard work and dedication we are a step closer to finding a cure for psoriasis.
CONGRATULATIONS TARA AND THANK YOU FOR BEING A PSORIASIS PSUPERHERO
Learn more about Tara’s life with psoriasis and her participation with the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Describe how a program through the National Psoriasis Foundation has changed your life?
Participating in the Walk for a Cure has had the most impact on my life. The walk introduced me to a unique community of people that I’m forever grateful for. I not only met community leaders, local medical professionals, research activists, and drug representatives but life long friends.
Describe a time when having psoriasis was difficult, how did you overcome it?
In dealing with psoriasis there have been several instances where people have stared or asked questions or made rude comments. It is easy to fall victim of their ignorance and begin to feel embarrassed or ashamed. It was these feelings that contributed to the idea that I should cover up or hide.
I remember specifically one time when I was working in a retail customer service position a woman exclaiming to me, “Oh my gosh, did you get burned? You poor thing!” After having experienced several similar situations, I realized in that moment that to break this cycle I needed to step up. So, I took the time to educate her on psoriatic disease. From then on, rather than being upset and feeling negative when crossed with ignorance, I use it as an opportunity to educate. With this increased awareness I hope for increased support as well as less stares and comments for other to endure.
How are you contributing to the mission of The National Psoriasis Foundation?
Having kick started my participation last year with the Walk for a Cure, I continue to support the goals of the NPF by attending our monthly division meetings, representing the cause as Youth Ambassador for this year’s walk, collaborating to develop a young professionals group, and taking any given opportunity to educate others about psoriatic disease.
When was your “coming out” moment in regards to psoriasis? (Provide details of when you first felt comfortable enough to reveal your psoriasis to friends, family, significant other, etc.)
Diagnosed at a younger age with mild psoriasis, it was never something I felt the need to talk about or explain. My “coming out” moment came after my psoriasis grew to be severe. To hide it would require long sleeves and pants year round. I would avoid pools, outdoor activities, having my picture taken, and several other enjoyable things. I wasn’t being myself. I was depressed and unhappy. So, I made the decision to change.
Rather than letting my psoriasis truly consume me, I accepted it as a part of who I am. It has not come easy and certainly has its challenges but in the same light it has been rewarding. Because of my acceptance, I’ve taken the opportunity to educate others, I’ve received many compliments about the courage it takes to reveal my psoriasis with short sleeves, I’ve become more outgoing when meeting new people involved with the NPF community, and most importantly I know I smile most when I’m being myself.
What advice would you give to someone who is suffering from psoriasis and depressed about their disease?
I would tell anyone else faced with psoriatic disease that with diagnosis doesn’t have to come suffering. There is a way to find positives. Make the most of this situation. Get involved with the psoriatic community, confide in others, share your story, but most of all don’t lose yourself to a medical condition. Make the decision to continue living a full happy life-you deserve it!
How are you conquering psoriasis and not suffering from it?
My experience with psoriasis has been one of struggles, trials, small victories, creams, ointments, and biologics.
I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve wondered why. But, at the end of the day I can be grateful for the people it has brought into my life. And though it can be extremely difficult at times, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to accept a life with psoriasis, to venture out of seclusion, to escape the confines of long sleeves, to work past the stares, and to truly live.