It's more than just an NPF event

| Howard Chang

On Saturday, March 19, I moderated the second More Than Skin Deep (MTSD) event in Sacramento, California, called “Fitting It All Together.” 

I didn’t hesitate to say yes when invited to co-moderate. In fact, I looked forward to volunteering with the National Psoriasis Foundation to gain a presence in the California state capital since returning to Northern California from Los Angeles just over two years ago. 

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended college at the University of California, Davis. The Sacramento area has a special place in my heart for many reasons. I met my wife, Lori, in our senior year when our apartment mates introduced us to each other. 

It’s also where I first publicly told others about my psoriatic condition, speaking to a packed lecture hall of over 300 at my college Christian fellowship. 

Relating the failed treatments, bullying and frustration of living with psoriatic disease brought a flood of emotion—and support. I realized I didn’t have to hide my psoriasis anymore after that meeting. 

Building a network of support

I heard from Sonia Kalil, associate director of field operations at NPF, that the foundation did not have a presence in the Sacramento region. At a local coffee shop, we discussed the possibility of a new initiative in Sacramento. Some months later, we held our first MTSD event, which I also moderated, with my dermatologist at UC Davis Medical Center, Dr. Emanual Maverakis, as the speaker. 

This year, in addition to Dr. Maverakis, we invited Dr. Samuel Hwang, the chair of dermatology and professor in the Department of Dermatology at UC Davis Medical Center. The new format had Dr. Hwang present types, treatments and tips to control psoriatic disease. Dr. Maverakis covered hot topics in psoriatic research. 

I especially enjoyed hearing about the new developments and research related to psoriasis. Those slides showed me just how much incredible work researchers are currently engaged with to find treatments and a cure for psoriatic disease. 

Additionally, Dr. Maverakis included a few slides of his research on glycans and autoimmunity funded by a grant from the NPF. I interviewed him and his team about the research a few months ago—you can read about it in my blog.

Inspired by others' journeys

The MTSD panel discussion included a couple of my inspiring fellow Sacramento NPF team members, Ann Filby and Mark McGraw. Ann’s story as a parent of a child with psoriatic disease gave everyone a glimpse into a caregiver’s enduring concern for a loved one. 

“Each developmental age that my daughter reached held its own challenges in terms of compliance with treatments and emotional issues,” Ann said. “It has been a journey of balancing emotional and medical issues, and continuing to help create the best quality of life she can have with psoriatic disease.” 

Mark’s passionate pursuit of health led him to stay active and healthy despite a psoriatic arthritis diagnosis after living with psoriasis for some years. 

In his MTSD biographical sketch he wrote, “I have climbed around 75 mountain peaks throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and Cascade Mountains. This summer, I am planning to climb Mount Whitney with a peak elevation of 14,505. Yes, I will be sore after a climb. Who wouldn’t be? I plan to enjoy every step, every breath, every ache, every pain . . . because I can.”

I’m also excited to take on the role of the NPF Northern California Division Sacramento Committee Chair. MTSD gave me a great opportunity to meet local sponsor and vendor representatives to start building vital relationships in supporting the NPF’s work locally. 

This year in May, we’ll also hold the inaugural Team NPF Walk in Sacramento close to the state’s capitol. I’m looking forward to how we can unite the NPF team here in finding a cure and improving the lives of those impacted every day with psoriatic disease.

Rev. Howard Chang has lived with severe psoriasis and eczema for more than 35 years, since childhood. In addition to actively blogging and tweeting about skin-related concerns, he is the National Psoriasis Foundation Northern California Division Sacramento Committee Chair.

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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