2009-04-10 / Community

Hope For A Cure

By Jessica Durham

"Acceptance — Living with Vitiligo" by Natasha Pierre, was published and released by Xlibris Publishing in March 2009. "Acceptance — Living with Vitiligo" by Natasha Pierre, was published and released by Xlibris Publishing in March 2009. By Jessica Durham

Most stay-at-home mothers of three could easily see the concept of time management as nearly impossible. But when Natasha Pierre envisioned her dream of writing a book about overcoming her illness, nothing was going to stop her. She vowed to find the time to write.

Pierre, a Far Rockaway resident for four years, was sitting on the beach with her best friend, Earl McCarthy, in the fall of 2002 when she noticed a dark spot on her wrist. At first she thought it was a sunburn mark and it was going to go away. But, as the spots gradually increased up her arm, her best friend became alarmed and advised her to check it out. Pierre got tested, had a skin biopsy, and was diagnosed with Vitiligo.

Pierre kept a journal about her thoughts and feelings dealing with her disease. That is why everything just flowed together while writing the book, Pierre said. "Acceptance — Living with Vitiligo" was published and released by Xlibris Publishing in March 2009. A self-help book, it explains the causes and effects of Vitiligo and how one can find out if he or she has it. The book is also a memoir of Pierre's life and her struggle with the illness.

Vitiligo is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks melanin in the skin, which is the cell that makes the colors of the skin, Pierre explained. The body loses pigments in the skin and the spots look like birth marks. There are different types of Vitiligo. Pierre has Vitiligo that is symmetrical, which means the spots spread in a pattern in one place. However, the spots can also appear in different places on the body. The causes are not known. According to Pierre, people don't know that one of the main factors that trigger Vitiligo is stress.

"Some people don't know they are under stress," Pierre said. There can be stress of pregnancy, relationships, or other things that stress people out. Pierre said that another cause is if the body is low in vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for the skin, Pierre continued, and one should take a blood test and a specific test for the amount of vitamin D in the body. If someone has a low level of vitamin D, he or she should do natural herbal therapy instead of steroid cream, which causes cancer, according to the author. "The dermatologist won't tell you that." Pierre added. Pierre also believes that Vitiligo is genetic and that there is a gene that triggers the disease, which she talks more about on her website http://acceptance livingwithvitiligo.blogspot.com. She does not believe that the disease is lifethreatening but it is an indicator of other things going on in the body.

"Some cancer patients have low vitamin D," Pierre said. If doctors study the disease then they can find a cure and also see if other diseases come from Vitiligo. Doctors can also see if other people died from it in the past, Pierre said.

Earl McCarthy is now Pierre's husband. He inspired her to find out about Vitiligo. He is a photographer and they have three young children together. Pierre's other inspiration came from wanting to help people who don't know that they have the disease and because she believes it is genetic. Pierre said when she went to the book store she couldn't find any books on Vitiligo. Therefore, she created a "reference and outreach book" that could inspire someone to do something about his or her condition." At least I can inspire somebody," Pierre said. "I have done my job." Pierre belongs to a Vitiligo group. Someone sent the group an email about a doctor doing research on the disease and needed volunteers. Dr. Caroline Le Poole, an expert in micro-biology, molecular cell biology and bioprocess technology, was doing research on the gene responsible for Vitiligo. Pierre volunteered to participate in the study. Soon after, Poole got a grant from the government to study Vitiligo, find a cure and stop the spread of the disease. Poole currently studies in Chicago. "Find a cause. Do something about it," Pierre said. "Try to find a cure. Write about it. Join a group [because] doctors don't have time." Pierre went to Prospect Park High School. She went to Nyack College for a bachelor's degree in science. Then she went to American Intercontinental University for a master's degree in business administration. While living in Far Rockaway from 2003 to 2007, Pierre worked as a real estate agent for Perfect Properties. She also worked in P.S. 253 as a substitute teacher working with autistic children for four years. She now is a stay-athome mom in Atlanta, Georgia and does business consulting as a "hobby" in which she helps people with their business plans. She wrote a children's book which should come out in the fall of 2009. The most rewarding part was seeing the finished product, Pierre explained, because there was a lot of "juggling."

"Attitude is everything," Pierre said. "One should not let any type of disease or disorders make them feel less than what they are."

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