The National Eczema Association recently announced the second annual Itching for a Cure walk, which will raise awareness and funds for eczema outreach and research. It will take place June 8 on the Monmouth University campus in New Jersey--essentially greater New York City. (Last year's walk was held in Asheville, North Carolina.)
The largest barrier for me, as an adult patient, to participating in such a walk--were one to be held in the area I live in--is embarrassment. Eczema is not a socially acceptable disease. It's there on your skin, sometimes your face, where people can see there's something wrong with you. And when it's not visible, that's a good thing. You want to hide it.
In this matter, there's a huge difference between a parent of a child with eczema and an adult patient with eczema. The mother or father of a child with eczema is not embarrassed. They are concerned and want to do everything they can to make their child better.
On top of the embarrassment factor, it seems a bit selfish, a bit like a
panhandler, for an adult patient to take part in an eczema walk. Sponsor me, it seems to say, to raise money for a cure for me!
Mothers and fathers are ready to fight for their kids. They are not doing it for themselves. They will proudly take part in an eczema walk, and look you in the eye.
The absence of adult patients from Itching for a Cure is probably not a major factor. After all, eczema is predominantly a condition that children outgrow. But how might we convince adult patients, including me, to take part?
I think the key lies in altruism. It's not about you.
Let's face it--if you're raising money to increase awareness of the prevalence of eczema, or how it should be properly treated, or to fund research that might lead to a pharmaceutical cure--you are not doing it for yourself. There will be no cure for eczema in your lifetime. You are doing it for other people. Your grandkids, and millions of people you will never know.
It becomes a lot less embarrassing when you're doing it for somebody else.
And that is why if there is ever an Itching for a Cure walk in my area, I'll be signing up. I know exactly how shitty it is to live with this condition, and how important it is that other people be spared the torment and the embarrassment. It's not me I'll be doing it for--it's you!