This is Me - An Interview With Psoriatic Disease Patient Advocate Lori-Ann Holbrook

Patient Expert
Julie Cerrone Croner

It may sound crazy, but I’m so thankful for my psoriatic disease.

Why you may ask? Well, because of my experiences and advocacy work, it has brought some of the most inspiring and caring people into my life.

One of these people is Lori-Ann Holbrook.

Lori-Ann is my psister - my psoriatic disease sister. She’s someone that I turn to for advice and when I need to talk. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve ridden the psoriatic disease roller coaster together for the past several years. Lori-Ann was even one of my health coaching clients a few years back. I absolutely loved our bi-weekly calls and working together to get her on the right track with her diet.

Movies have always been one of Lori-Ann’s favorite pastimes. So, when HealthCentral asked me to interview my psoriatic arthritic friend, I knew I wanted to take a movie angle!

The following is an interview between myself and Lori-Ann Holbrook, a psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patient. I invite you to read our interview and then imagine what your story would look like as a movie. What type of movie are you living in? What would viewers take away?

Remember, you have the power to rewrite the ending of your story. So if you don’t like the way your plot is moving, empower yourself with the tools to get your condition on track!

HealthCentral (HC): Give us the highlight reel of Lori-Ann's psoriatic disease movie trailer.

Lori-Ann Holbrook:  My highlight reel shows me moving back to the Northeast and working in Manhattan. And all at once: being unable to straighten my right leg, developing lesions on the tops and soles of my feet and shuffling around like my 70-year-old mother at the age of 45.  Cut to my genius primary care physician (pretty blonde newlywed) taking me seriously and thinking all my symptoms were of one problem. Cut to my diagnosis and finding the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Psoriasis in the New York Botanical Gardens.

Cut to meeting other patients at a pharma-sponsored Blogger Summit and meeting Joni Katzantzis, who blogs about her psoriasis.  Cut to me hunting down a blog about psoriatic arthritis for me and not finding much.  Cut to a giant lightbulb and me giving birth to City Girl Flare, writing for The Mighty, Everyday Health, and several unbranded websites, as well as being asked to partner with drug companies eager to know what it is like to live with my condition.

Cut to my being sought after to participate in the first HealtheVoices conference where I met my idols with all sorts of chronic conditions and being part of a unique tribe of people who understand like no one can.  It is no secret that you are my favorite, Julie!

HC: Every good movie has a turning point. What was the catalyst for your taking control of your health and becoming a proactive and empowered patient?

Holbrook: I was ready at the very beginning to change what I needed to in order to feel better.  I was very excited to tell my first rheumatologist that I was eating an anti-inflammatory diet and using the elliptical at the gym.  Reading further about treating my whole body for my condition and finding a stellar Holistic Health Coach (also you, Julie) excited me.  If there was a catalyst in my journey, it was when I decided to start my blog, City Girl Flare, so other patients would not have to feel alone.

HC: Walk us through the scene of you publishing your first post about your health out into the world? Why did you start and what did you hope to achieve by starting your online advocacy efforts?

Holbrook: I started my blog, City Girl Flare, because I was looking to read one from someone like me with psoriatic arthritis, who was interested in the same things I was, who I could relate to.  Thank goodness I did not find your blog, Julie, because it was everything I wanted. If it weren’t for missing out on It’s Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life, mine might never have been born.  My first post happened to coincide with the 2012 Walk to Cure Psoriasis in New York.  I was excited to introduce myself, tell others what it was like participating in a walk with severe psoriatic arthritis and share some photos of the event.  I was hoping other patients like me would find it and feel less alone as I shared my journey with them.

HC: Fast forward a few years and we see Lori-Ann in a new city, overcoming new obstacles, with a few new added diagnoses. Have your goals changed at all with your health and advocacy work?

Holbrook: Ha!  All these changes have brought about a new, smarter, healthier Lori-Ann!  I’ve been spending lots of time healing, growing, and getting better with each day in Dallas, Texas, which also means I’ve barely written any blog posts in two years!  Self-care is serious business. My goals remain the same, to take my readers on my journey, and sometimes I have to take time to be ready to share. Well, that time is soon, and I will be posting more regularly.  I can’t wait to fill everyone in on my new diagnoses and what it’s taken to manage them well.

HC: If someone was watching the movie of your psoriatic disease journey, what is the one thing you'd want them to take away with at the end? The credits are rolling, your favorite song is playing, and you want this message to be stuck in their head.

Holbrook: Love this!  I think my readers are used to me finding the diamond in the haystack and living my journey with psoriatic arthritis in a positive way.  At the end of the movie, I hope folks understand that living with psoriatic arthritis can still be meaningful, positive, and enjoyable. The song changes every time I think about this question, but today I’ll choose “This is Me” by Keala Settle and the cast of “The Greatest Showman.”

Want to learn more about Lori-Ann and her psoriatic disease journey? Check out her Living with Psoriasis: My Story and make sure to go read a few articles that Lori-Ann has authored for HealthCentral.

See more helpful articles:

Living with Psoriatic Arthritis: Memo to Me

Michelle's Psoriatic Arthritis Biologics Success Story

Amberlee's Psoriatic Arthritis Journey With Biologics