When a $970 bottle of shampoo stands between you and your scalp psoriasis

| Steve Bieler

Nancy and Don Alpert met in San Francisco in the 1990s. They have since lived in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and are now back in California. Everywhere they have called home, they have brought with them their love of family, community and baseball, and one thing they would have preferred to leave behind: Nancy’s psoriasis.


Psoriasis in the dark ages

Alpert was diagnosed with plaque psoriasis when she was 23, but she may have had it in her senior year in high school. “I thought I had dandruff,” she says. “My friends would brush flakes off my shoulders.” Her “dandruff” got worse in her 20s, possibly because she smoked. “I learned at the NPF Research Symposium in 2017 that smoking is a possible trigger for psoriasis.”

She kept going to a dermatologist to ask about the odd “spots” on her skin, and he kept telling her she had ringworm. This was the 1970s, and the best this dermatologist could do for her was to suggest a cortisone cream.

When she was 23, Alpert was visiting her primary care physician for a different reason. She happened to be wearing shorts. The doctor looked at her bare legs and says, “Oh, you have psoriasis.” Then he touched one of her spots. “Why are you touching it?” Alpert remembers asking him. “I didn’t know that psoriasis wasn’t contagious!”

She had a diagnosis, but she didn’t have an effective treatment. “My only real treatment choices back then were steroids or acne meds,” she says. “My skin condition wasn’t what I would’ve liked, but it was livable.” Since the 1990s, she’s treated her psoriasis with various non-steroidal prescription topicals.

Her psoriasis appears on her shins and ankles, the back of her neck, her elbows, and one ear – what she calls the “out-of-the-way places.” She wonders if she might be a candidate for a biologic.

An easy decision

The Alperts support food banks in their new home in Sacramento and organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and Habitat for Humanity.

“These problems affect not just individuals, but also society,” she says. “Healthy people make healthy communities, healthy communities make healthy cities, and so on. We try to see the bigger value of whatever contribution we can make.”

Nancy Alpert’s philanthropic instinct was evident even when she was a young baseball fanatic waiting outside Candlestick Park in San Francisco to meet the Giants’ slugging first baseman, Willie McCovey. It was a singular moment for the starstruck fan. “I remember the long line and the moment I met him. He signed my baseball cap, but I eventually gave the cap away to someone who loved him even more.”

Getting involved with NPF was a simple choice. Alpert has been an NPF member since 2003. But she didn’t stop there. NPF has given her a way to get involved in own personal cause. “I believe we all need to feel that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s important to our individual well-being. We’re all connected,” she says.

She attended the 2018 NPF Advocacy Day before the California State Assembly. “I was able to stand up before our representatives and show them my $970 bottle of shampoo for my scalp psoriasis,” she says. “That’s what I pay, and I have great health insurance.”

In addition to their lifetime NPF membership, the Alperts have taken the further step of joining the NPF Ben Isenberg Legacy Society. They’re not just planning for their future – they’re planning for a future that includes a cure for psoriatic disease.

“Contributing to an organization like NPF is efficient,” Alpert says. “They see where the needs are when we can’t. They take a holistic view of the community.”

How to up your donations game

Every year, NPF invests millions of dollars in research, advocacy, education and patient services to help the people who live every day with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We couldn’t do it without your support. You can become a member and receive our emails and the award-winning NPF Advance. You can make a big impact with a future gift through the NPF Legacy Society.

You can spread your gift through the year, at your own pace, through the NPF Sustainer Psociety. You can donate vehicles and stocks, memorialize a loved one, or participate in your employer’s matching-gift program. Help us as we drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected.

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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