Madeline Coleman - Student Ambassador
Though studying cutaneous disorders is a passion of mine, what drives me most is advocating for my (future) patients. What better way to combine these aspects than serving as the IAHSN Student Ambassador. HS is a condition I was briefly introduced to over the past two years within my medical curriculum. A few of my classmates had been diagnosed with HS in the past, and they took it upon themselves to hold an after-hours talk discussing their unique experiences with the disease. I was so moved by their testimony. Once I realized the extensive impact of HS and the lack of resources available to those who suffer, I knew I had to play my part in making a difference as early as possible in my medical career. It would be an honor to offer a helping hand as an IAHSN Student Ambassador. Through my experience in this role, I can only hope to better the future of HS clinical care.
Emily Amic - Student Ambassador
“I first remember experiencing symptoms of my Hidradenitis Suppurativa when I was 12 years old. I lived with shame, silence, and pain. The few times I did go to walk-in clinics with my HS symptoms, my pain was brushed off as being ingrown hair. In 2021, I began to attend university as a low-income first-generation student. This culture shock and mass amounts of stress impacted my body more than before. After my first semester at university, I visited home, where I confided with my mom about my pain, and she urged me to go to a walk-in clinic. However, at this appointment, I was diagnosed with HS at 18 years old. When the doctor left the patient's room to write my referral to a dermatologist, I was left to Google everything about HS. In these two minutes that seemed longer than hours, I read about stage three, uncurable pain, fertility issues, depression, and more. I felt my life was forever changed, that my dreams, aspirations, and goals were ultimately permanently controlled by HS, and foreseeably, this quickly began to impact my mental health. Knowing no one with HS and with limited information about HS within my reach, I felt very isolated. Every time I saw a red bump on or under my skin, whether it was in my HS-affected areas or not, I would blame myself, this disease, and the world. I was truly angry.
Coming to accept my diagnosis has been one of my most significant challenges. Through a long, continuous journey of self-acceptance, therapy, time, and learning about myself, I truly realized how strong I was and how everyone with HS are warriors. My HS journey confirmed that I wanted to help others, and because of this, I am currently I’m studying to become a therapist. The impact of this disease, while undeniably physical, is also mental. People suffering from HS are far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and attempt suicide. Ongoing discussions in the HS community about all aspects of HS are important. I specifically hope to normalize the mental struggles people with HS face. Today, I still struggle with HS, but being more comfortable in my skin and learning to accept myself, my scars, and this disease has shown me strength and resilience are what make people with HS true warriors.”