Microreports

My condition is more than skin deep, says Fatima


Reported by Fatima

Published on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Health Leadership
Microreports

My condition is more than skin deep, says Fatima


Written by Fatima

Published on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Health

Leadership

When I was 15 years old, my skin started turning white. I’m of Bangladeshi heritage and had always been brown so I was shocked when pale, itchy patches appeared on my face.

I went to the doctor and they told me I had condition called Vitiligo, which makes your skin lose its pigmentation.

Sure enough, after a while, my body began turning white too.

I also felt discriminated against because people would stare at me and start asking me questions like: “How did this happen to your face?”

 

A photo of a man with the vitiligo skin condition
A man with the vitiligo skin condition. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vitiligo_misto.jpg. Author Ahmed; Tamara Abrantes.

Some people go to a lot of trouble to lighten or darken their skin because they think it makes them look more beautiful, healthy or wealthy, but now I had the opposite problem: my skin tone was changing without me wanting it to and I couldn’t control it.

I also felt discriminated against because people would stare at me and start asking me questions like: “How did this happen to your face?” or “Were you born with that skin condition?” or “Has anyone else in your family got the same condition as you?”

I used makeup to cover my white patches when I went out to places, but that didn’t really help me either because the make up would come off.

I was desperate to know if there was any cure for my condition so my Dad and I started going to UCLH hospital to find out if the experts could help me.

One time when we were at the hospital a nurse took photos of my white patches and showed us the machine that’s used to get Vitiligo patients’ skin colour back to normal.

I was told that if I got inside the machine and stood in the middle, a red ultraviolet light would be aimed at my white patches from a special lamp. It’s a treatment called Phototherapy.

woman with Vitiligo
People would ask: how did that happen to your face?

But the doctor told us that there was no guarantee the machine would work and that some other Vitiligo patients had tried it and it didn’t work for them.

I decided there was no point me risking my life by using the machine if it was not 100% certain that it would work.

I also found out that Phototherapy gives you a bigger chance of getting cancer.

I thought about this for a while and decided there was no point me risking my life by using the machine if it was not 100% certain that it would work. So the next day I went back to UCLH hospital with my sister and told the doctor I was not going ahead with the treatment.

Ever since that moment, I have had to have a think about how I can live with the condition I have got day to day and for the rest of my entire life.

 

To find out more about Vitiligo click here

 

Written by Fatima


My name is Fatima Begum My background is Bangladeshi, but I was born in the United Kingdom. I have been taking part in the Camden Disability Action Leadership programme since June 2020. When the first lockdown started and I could see how isolated people were, I decided my Leadership project would be about helping Disabled people to connect with others on Zoom. I can speak for myself; I didn't know anything about Zoom until a CDA member of staff explained it to me. It opened my eyes to the possibility of connecting with my support network online and made the lockdowns more bearable for me. Talking to people online has also helped my confidence. I honestly feel proud of myself that I was able to learn something new during that first lockdown. I feel like I have more support now because of everything online. And I can’t believe that people are starting to get involved in my project now and learn how to use Zoom on different equipment. I’m hoping to get a job when all this ends and now that I can use a laptop better that has really helped me. I have taken part in community journalism training and I have learnt how to record voice notes, which I had not done before. I have also gained confidence in talking about things that matter to me and I love sharing my stories on the website.

Read all of Fatima's articles

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