Popular radio morning-show host Terry DiMonte sat down with Canadian Skin correspondent Preet Bhogal to talk about being in the public eye while dealing with psoriasis.
By Preet Bhogal
Terry DiMonte is glad he works in radio because there have been days when his psoriasis was so severe and wearing clothes was so painful that he did his show in his boxers. Terry’s story is like that of many other psoriasis patients—only in his case, Terry couldn’t always hide behind the microphone.
“My whole thing was complicated by the fact that I was in the public eye in Montreal,” says Terry. “When I met people as a radio and television personality, I would extend my hand to shake and they would sometimes look at it and go ‘oooh, what’s the matter with you?’ There wasn’t a whole lot of knowledge about skin disease back then.”
Terry’s condition began in his early 20s, when he noticed something under his fingernails. The doctor just told him to clip his fingernails, but it began to spread—to his elbows and knees, then one patch, then another. By the time he was 30 he had psoriasis from his neck to his toes.
“It affects your confidence in the most everyday things. I’d make excuses for everything because I didn’t want to go to the beach and have to take my shirt off or wear shorts. I wouldn’t go golfing because it would involve wearing a short-sleeved shirt.”
Terry began isolating himself. His friends tried to help by telling him it was just a rash, but as Terry says, “That doesn’t fix your head; it didn’t take away the lack of confidence and the fear.” At one point he even gave up trying to treat his condition.
Throughout this time, he was still in the public eye. And while having to shake a lot of hands and seeing some people recoil was tough, it wasn’t all negative. “Sometimes I’d meet people and they would say ‘my sister (or my daughter or son) has the same thing.’”
He decided to start talking about it on the air, telling people that he had psoriasis, what it was like living with it and that if you have it to go to your dermatologist to learn about new treatments.
“In my position I was able to help people and say ‘don’t give up.’ It helped me work through it, and it was kind of fulfilling that I was able to do that.”
After he went public he got hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from people telling him their stories.
At no point did Terry reach out to any psoriasis support groups. But when he started a new treatment he met other patients at the dermatologist’s office who were even worse off than he was. “And when we would talk and we had something in common, I didn’t feel alone,” he says.
To Terry, after so many years of suffering, the new treatment his doctor recommended felt like a miracle. He still gets little patches of psoriasis here and there, but as many skin patients can testify “after being covered head to toe if you get a little patch on your ankle or your hand, it’s nothing.”
So now Terry can do his show fully clothed. Unless it’s really hot and the A/C is broken.
The CSPA is a not-for-profit organization, created by patients for patients, providing support and information regarding skin, hair and nail conditions. Working with other members of the dermatological community, the CSPA raises awareness of the challenges of living with a skin conditions and encourages patients to self-advocate for their overall wellbeing.
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