When we launched an awareness campaign around atopic dermatitis (AD) in Hong Kong, in collaboration with The Hong Kong Allergy Association (AllergyHK), a man called Charlie volunteered to take part.
Diagnosed with severe AD when he was a child, Charlie, now in his 20s was bullied and teased at school for years.
Many people who live with moderate and severe AD like Charlie lose hope of ever feeling better. The campaign encourages them to look ahead and compare living with AD to running a marathon: there are many times when you think you can’t go on, but every step you take brings new hope.
As a fitness lover who frequently goes to the gym despite his condition, Charlie was chosen to be featured in Sanofi’s disease awareness campaign, which made him feel truly empowered. As he wrote in a Facebook post, the campaign gave him the opportunity to experience many things for the first time that he didn’t think were possible because of his condition: facing the camera, being in the limelight, meeting new people, including celebrities... This helped him venture out of his comfort zone and he was rewarded by strong support from everyone around him.
Before the campaign, he didn’t even want to look at photos of himself; today he will be the face of a public campaign. He is grateful that the campaign released him from the mental prison he had been struggling to get out of. It empowered him to go the extra mile as he now knows that he is in charge of his own future and not limited by his disease. In the past, he felt that his family was his only support as he fought his condition, but thanks to this campaign he no longer feels pitied but empowered to help other patients and fight this battle together. As he says in the first line of his Facebook post: “I decide who I am!”