Luverne Connelly is a total firecracker who’s lived with eczema her whole life: through childhood and parenthood, professional life and retirement. We spoke to Luverne about how she’s learned how to meet eczema’s challenges with resilience.
Tell us about how your eczema has impacted you over the course of your life.
Having eczema most of my life, from when I was a baby, I’ve had many ups and downs, hard days, and restless nights. Still sleep can be burdensome sometimes. I’ve gone through zillions of doctors, been made fun of several times, forever. It’s been rough, but it’s made me who I am.
With pregnancy each one was different. When I had my first son, my body, my eczema was like ‘are you kidding me, what are you doing?’ And I broke out from head to toe so bad it was just unsightly. It was rough. I’ve had two skin cancers due to eczema, they were basically lesions all over the body. And they were very very painful. But I’m over that. Now when I do get a breakout a lot of it’s from the heat. Or stress, stress’ll do it too.
I’ve always had it, and I don’t know any other way to be. This is me–what you see is what you get. I’m not one to go ‘woe is me, feel sorry for me,’ or think of it as a problem. I’m like, ‘this is who I am.’ I have it, I deal with it, I have good days and bad days. On the good days it’s good and the bad days it’s bad.
You’re a Black woman, and you have visible hypopigmentation that’s turned patches of your skin white. Tell us about that.
It doesn’t bother me–it doesn't itch, it doesn’t hurt. But it makes other people around me uncomfortable, because they’re like, are you Black, are you white, are you a Martian, do you have a foreign disease, am I going to catch it? Because they’re like, ‘ew what do you have; ew, are you contagious; ew, I don’t want to get what you get.’
What’s your advice to people living with eczema? How can they meet eczema’s challenges with resilience?
You just deal with it and keep going. Find out what works for you. Don’t dwell on having eczema–yeah it’s a condition but everybody has something. Ours just happens to be on the outside. And to realize you’re unique. Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think, what other people say. Be who you are.