Samantha’s story: Living with linear scleroderma

Meet Samantha, a 23-year-old who is hoping to attend university. Samantha lives with linear scleroderma, an auto-immune disorder that features a line of thickened skin.

Interviewed by CSPA Board member Preet Bhogal

Please tell us about yourself and where you live. My name is Samantha Loucks. I’m 23 years old and I live in Ajax, Ontario. I love music, reading, movies, cooking and spending time with family, friends and my boyfriend. I’m currently saving up to attend a postsecondary institution in the future. Life is pretty good!

How long have you had linear scleroderma? I was diagnosed with linear scleroderma when I was 11 years old.

How does it affect your daily life? When I was first diagnosed I had very low self-esteem. I was a very shy child, but once in high school I decided to become very outgoing so that people noticed my personality instead of my face. Now, it hardly affects my life all. People might stare, but I rarely notice. The biggest challenge is in job interviews. Some employers have judged me based on my facial differences.

How does it affect your personal relationships? It’s the elephant in the room. Once my linear scleroderma is addressed and dealt with, we can move on and get to know each other. My boyfriend doesn’t notice anymore, nor do my friends. When you stop focusing on your own differences, I believe others focus [...] continue the story

Terry’s Story: Living with Psoriasis

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 [...] continue the story

Itchy and Scratchy Lessons Learned

By Preet Bhogal

I went through a lot of versions of this piece. I narrated it, wrote it longhand, typed it on my laptop, even jotted down notes on my phone but nothing felt right. I thought of how I wanted to say it then questioned myself and started over completely. I took a lot of breaks to check Facebook, the latest celebrity gossip, and watch reruns of the Simpsons. I even took a break from taking a break to read up on the psychology of procrastination. During this whole process all I really learned were trivialities about Facebook friends and celebrities, and that I have way too many episodes of The Simpsons memorized.

I still had not written a damn thing about my experience as a patient with a lifelong skin condition.

And I have a lot to write about because I have over thirty years of experience as a patient suffering from a chronic skin condition. I mean, the first symptoms of my eczema appeared when Joe Clark was Prime Minister! That was a pretty long time ago. The Simpsons weren’t even in reruns! There were new episodes of The Jeffersons! Madonna’s first album wasn’t even out yet!

There is so much [...] continue the story