Fourteen-year-old Audrey Herlocker started experiencing symptoms of psoriasis when she was 9. The condition came on like wildfire, with angry plaques covering her entire body. Over time, her symptoms began to ease. But her scalp remained covered with scaly patches.
Audrey’s mother, Tami, recalls driving her daughter to and from a seemingly endless round of medical appointments that were as time-consuming as they were stressful.
But, Tami says, light therapy seemed to do the trick. “Sure, we spent a lot of time in the doctor’s office, but we also knew how lucky we were to have found an effective treatment.”
The Herlockers soon learned about a portable ultraviolet B (UVB) light panel designed for home use, and they wasted no time in purchasing one. “Our device is just as effective as the large unit in the dermatologist’s office,” says Tami. “And it has also made a huge difference in our quality of life. Those frequent medical appointments are now a thing of the past.”
Audrey rarely experiences a flare these days. At-home light therapy, paired with the daily application of steroid cream on her scalp, have succeeded in keeping her psoriasis at bay.
Committed to research
Even though their daughter’s disease is under control, Tami and her husband, Jon Herlocker, a Seattle-based software company executive, are more committed than ever to psoriatic disease research.
Tami’s family has a significant history of psoriasis. “My mother has it, and so do a couple of my aunts. My maternal grandmother had the most severe case of all. And one day, Audrey’s children might inherit it. That’s why we support the National Psoriasis Foundation’s research efforts — for our family’s sake and for the sake of so many families affected by this burdensome disease.”
The link between psoriasis and inflammation is especially intriguing to Tami. In the meantime, she and Audrey have been exploring probiotics, omega-3 supplements, turmeric and an anti-inflammatory diet. They also are waiting for stronger evidence to emerge in support of these and other treatments that may prove effective in cutting inflammation down to size.
Audrey and her mom have only drawn closer since psoriasis entered the picture. For one, Tami is always on hand to help with her daughter’s daily scalp treatment, a 15- to 20-minute routine. “Audrey has super thick hair, so it’s not an easy process. Sometimes we talk. And sometimes we watch something funny on TV,” Tami says. “The main thing is that we get to spend quality time together.”
A favorite mother-daughter joke is that Tami will need to move into the dorm with Audrey when she goes to college. That sounds lovely at the moment, but Tami isn’t exactly optimistic that it will come to pass. “Let’s see how Audrey feels about my tagging along a few years from now!”
Together, mother and daughter also take aerial classes, which are circus-inspired workouts. “We get to learn various acrobatic-style moves, and we try to perform these on a trapeze or hanging from a rope. The class is very social, and it’s a great workout,” Tami says.
Between swinging artfully on a trapeze, playing the piano, taking care of her two beloved cats and working hard in school, Audrey’s life is full — and full of promise. Audrey still gets small spots on her neck and chin from time to time, but as long as she sticks to her treatment regimen, she’s soaring high.
Closer to a cure
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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.