My scars do not define me. I am unique and marked for greatness!

18 Oct 2022

By Tamsin October

My name is Tamsin October from Athlone, Cape Town. I am 36 years old. I work as a community development practitioner with young people and children

This is my journey

As a young girl of 13 years, navigating through everyday life, I experienced puberty and body changes alongside what I have now known to call my psoriasis. I remember seeing pictures of my younger self in high school with thick stockings to hide the plaques on my skin which I did not know of. Do you ever wonder what it is like to wear long sleeves or dresses (which I sometimes still do today) in the summer heat just to fit in? This was my way of hiding and it helped me avoid itching. I think in some way this encouraged me to work with young people. As a community development and founder of a youth organization, I hope to change the mindset of children living in socio-economically challenged areas. Through volunteering, I aim to spread hope and make a positive impact on the Athlone community.

Coming out of the shadows

I faced embarrassment, and a feeling of lack of self-confidence and I always questioned the marks on my body, especially my arms. As I now know, psoriasis is not contagious and I can now speak openly about my psoriatic disease. There have been a few firsts as I come out of my teenage years. For instance, I am the first person on both sides of my family to develop psoriasis. I tell everyone that we are all human, we are made in our own beautiful way and living with psoriatic diesease should not become a barrier.

On love and relationships

I am engaged and will soon be planning my wedding to take place on World Psoriasis Day! I have chosen 29th October as my wedding day, for the only reason that my future has accepted me with Psoriasis. This is a part of the journey that nobody prepares you for and I am glad to have a very supportive partner

My partner was marrying me for me not my skin and this was one of the most memorable moments I ever had. I needed to share everything - from the itching to the treatments and bedding. All along my partner was very supportive

South Africa's experience and access to care - All the colors we are project

I personally could not afford a visit to the private dermatologist clinic. When I compare South Africa to other countries. Several people living with psoriasis have different programs and hundreds of people come together to raise awareness. I would like people to be open about psoriasis, share social media posts, and engage more in public. I would like to invite more people from the community to attend the workshop on Psoriatic Disease and to see the room full. To tell my own story, I joined IFPA's All the colors we are project. I am part of the steering committee. I want to share my experience with others. I believe the more people speak out and raise awareness the more people will seek help.