DONNA RUSSELLE: My mom would try simple things like oatmeal baths or different types of compresses or different types of lotions. As a child and I've vivid memories of my mom putting like Vaseline type of product all over me, my legs, my arms, everywhere, and wrapping my legs and my arms in Saran wrap, and then actually putting mitts on my hands and taping them on because that's how bad it was. I couldn't sleep, I would wake myself up because I was scratching so much where I'd wake myself up bleeding. And that had happened from the time I was a child up until about four years ago but I've had some sort of atopic dermatitis from the time I can remember.
SPEAKER 1: Natural treatments only go so far in relieving atopic dermatitis. Medications are available such as topical steroid creams but they aren't targeted and some drugs can have adverse side effects.
DONNA RUSSELLE: There was talk at one point about using Remicade, which is not a great drug, and I was young and wanted to have children and I really didn't want to use that drug. So other than that I just stuck with the steroid creams that so I was really just spot treating whatever spots I could on my body at the time. That's the only treatment I had ever had.
SPEAKER 1: Choosing a nursing career has been a rewarding profession for Donna, but having atopic dermatitis has presented some difficulties for her.
DONNA RUSSELLE: I went into nursing because I liked the profession and that's what I wanted to do. And I remember after my skin got really bad I did go see a physician and we didn't have any of these biologics or any of that back then. And I remember them looking at me and saying, well you know the best thing for you we try to tell people that having atopic dermatitis like you do, do not go into professions where they have to wash their hands a lot. And I remember thinking and looking at them saying, but I'm already in my profession right now and I love what I do and you are telling me that the only way for me to clear this up is to stop being a nurse. And I remember thinking there's got to be something else out there so that I can continue to do the job that I love to do and not be affected, my hands not be affected by it so much or the rest of my skin.
SPEAKER 1: Donna got a call from a friend who told her of a clinical trial involving a new targeted treatment.
DONNA RUSSELLE: I remember the day that I found out about the clinical trial that Dr. Goodman was doing. A friend of mine who also has severe atopic dermatitis called me and said, I'm so excited I just got myself enrolled in this clinical trial, you need to call Dr. Goodman's office and see if you can get into the study. So I did and she said, well let me come in today if you can and let me see if you're a candidate for it. And I literally dropped what I was doing and came into the office and she took a look at my skin, she talked to me about the study and she said yes that I was able to enroll in the study.
DR. GOODMAN: When I first met Donna, she had moderate to severe atopic dermatitis was quite involved, especially in high impact areas like the head and neck, the hands and in her position as a nurse where she's washing her hands frequently and treating patients, that had a very significant impact on her daily life.
DONNA RUSSELLE: So when we did start this clinical trial and my skin started to clear up, I was so thankful because I really wanted to continue with the profession that I love and I wasn't going to give up on it no matter what but I didn't also want to change my profession because of my skin. And we went through the whole this you may get a placebo at the beginning of the study, we really don't know because it's a true clinical trial. But she said, for the most part of people who have been receiving the medication, we've been seeing really great results and your skin will start to clear up. And I said to her, I will do anything to have my skin clear up I was that frustrated in that moment.
DR. GOODMAN: So the introduction of biologic therapy for the management of atopic dermatitis was really revolutionary because we finally had a targeted treatment that would control the disease in a very safe way.
DONNA RUSSELLE: And when I did start my clinical trial, I knew within two weeks that I was not receiving the placebo and I could see my skin starting to clear up within two weeks of receiving the first dose and it totally changed my life. Seeing my skin start to clear up within a few weeks was amazing for me, because I knew it was going to allow me to continue to do my job and take care of my kids and do all the things I need to do around the house and get a little bit more of my life back that way, because there was a lot of things that it was restricting me at at that point in my life. I do feel good, I do feel good.