How NPF put one man back in the saddle

| Steve Bieler
  • Name: David Harrold
  • Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Age diagnosed: 44
  • Age now: 50
  • Diagnosis: Plaque and possibly other types of psoriasis
  • Past treatments: Over-the-counter topicals, methotrexate, Stelara (ustekinumab), Clobex (Clobetasol propionate), Clobesol ointment
  • Current treatment: Cosentyx (secukinumab)
  • Status: Almost clear

David Harrold’s plaques first showed up in 2009 or 2010, while he was living in Florida. These mysterious blotches were small and appeared only behind his ears, but Harrold was worried. 

“I thought, ‘People are going to think I’m dirty. My mom taught me better than that,’” he said.

But then his plaques went on the march. They appeared on his legs, which in 2011 sent him to a dermatologist, who gave him a diagnosis: psoriasis. Looking back, Harrold believes that he had different versions of psoriasis on different parts of body, but nothing on his elbows or face.

The doctor at Harrold’s clinic put him on various creams, but without success. Next, they tried methotrexate. It did nothing, plus he had to get blood work done every three months because methotrexate can harm the liver. Harrold eventually gave up on methotrexate because of this potential side effect and because the pills and the blood work had become expensive.

In 2014, after moving to Chicago, Harrold entered a year-long, double-blind clinical trial for the biologic Stelara (ustekinumab). He estimates he was 20 to 25 percent covered when he went into this study. He also estimates Stelara cleared 70 to 75 percent of his plaques, but then the study ended.   

Two or three months later, his psoriasis came back full force. It spread to his stomach, chest, upper arms, shoulders and back. 

“After seeing success with the medication, getting my confidence back and wearing T-shirts for the first time in years, this demoralized me,” he said.

Harrold’s doctor tried again with creams and ointments, including Clobex and Clobesol, but they didn’t work and were too expensive, he said.

His NPF journey begins

Harrold discovered NPF and the Patient Navigation Center in April 2016. His Patient Navigator was Sara Conyers. 

“Sara was on the phone with me multiple times,” he said. After discussing his situation and learning more about his insurance status, Conyers sent him literature on the treatment options available via email and postal mail.   

Through working with Conyers, Harrold felt renewed optimism about his choices and the possibility of getting clear. One of the treatments outlined in NPF materials was the biologic Cosentyx (secukinumab). Harrold studied the efficacy and safety data Conyers sent him, and Conyers encouraged him to talk to his doctor about his treatment options. He received his first Cosentyx shot in June 2016 and saw “real clearing” that summer. “It’s a miracle drug,” Harrold said. “It left me with faint, faint patches. No one would know. I can wear shorts and no one would think anything of it.”

After his symptoms improved, Harrold, who was unemployed when he began working with Conyers, felt healthy enough to work again and secured a part-time job.  

Harrold praised Conyers for her patience, knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile. 

“Sara is a combination of [someone who does] her job well and is sensitive enough to hear your story,” he said. “She’s so personable, like a friend who takes on your challenge.” 

The improvement to his skin continued into 2017, despite surgery for a work-related injury that kept him off his treatment for almost two months. 

“What a difference [Cosentyx] has made in my life!!!” he wrote in an email in March 2017. “Now I want to get my life back. Psoriasis took me out of the social game. You’re even embarrassed to be around family members.”

Harrold attended the National Volunteer Conference in Chicago at the beginning of August 2017. He made his first volunteer contacts there, particularly with others living with psoriasis like Todd Bello and Jenn Pellegrin. 

“I told Todd that there are so many people here who are so much worse off, and he said not to think that way because, ‘It doesn’t matter how little or how much psoriasis you have. Pain is pain,’” Harrold said.

“I was overwhelmed by the strength of the people [at the conference] and the groups they’d formed. I was soaking up all the information. Someone said, ‘You were like a sponge.’ I know that in two years, if I can do it, I’ll be back. Until then, I want to help raise awareness.” 

Top: David Harrold (right) with his brother and mother. Above: Harrold and his friend James.

Let us help

Our Patient Navigators are here to give you one-on-one support, in English and in Spanish. Read this story about Patient Navigators and how we work. Contact us Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Pacific time.


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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