¡El Apoyo de NAAF Llega a Puerto Rico!
When NAAF received a photo of the new support group in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, we couldn’t wait to share the story of the group’s leader, Adriana Figueroa Diaz. Here Adriana describes how the group got started and what she hopes to accomplish.
When I was 12 years old, my alopecia areata diagnosis brought with it insecurities, fear, and hopelessness. I now understand that behind those insecurities was a beautiful girl with a voice waiting to be heard, behind the fear was the strength to lift myself up, and behind the hopelessness was the desire to help all those with similar feelings. In the hope of raising awareness, educating, and above all supporting individuals suffering from alopecia in Puerto Rico, I decided to start a NAAF support group on the island. Together with the Department of Dermatology of the Medical Sciences Campus and other volunteers, including doctors, psychologists and alopecia patients, I sought to create a multidisciplinary support group for the benefit of all.
With little idea of what to expect, I organized the first group meeting, which was held at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus on February 23. Dr. Xavier Sanchez, a dermatology resident at the UPR-School of Medicine, talked about new therapeutic approaches for alopecia areata; Dr. Claudia Mantaras, a clinical psychologist for children and adults and a professor at Ponce Health Sciences University, shared with us her views on human development and on learning to deal with this disease as patients, parents, and peers; and our special guest, Mrs. Zeni Colón, founder of the group Alopecia PR, prepared a beautiful piece on how we can lose our hair but not our strength.
As an alopecia patient, medical student, and aspiring dermatologist my main goal is to create a new alopecia areata community in Puerto Rico where we can support and guide each other through the intricacies of what it is to live with this disease. I have received great feedback from our first 37 attendees, who have been very grateful and inspired by this initiative, and I am eager to organize new meetings and awareness activities in the hope of some day reaching every person that has alopecia, knows someone with the disease, or simply wishes to help a good cause. This experience has been absolutely gratifying. Having the opportunity to support and guide these patients, who until our first meeting thought they were alone, is truly life changing.
Please follow us on Facebook @NAAFPR or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear about our activities and keep in touch with our new alopecia areata family.