Everything changed for Arcelia Diaz when she was knocked down one average day wakeboarding. “I felt like a 4X4 had hit me hard on my thigh and I went down. I tried to swim and felt my leg not respond to my command. It just floated on its own free will. I had broken my leg! My right femur was shattered in 3 places.” It didn’t occur to her how badly this would affect her life until she realized she didn’t have medical insurance. Arcelia was a self-employed homeowner with no health insurance at the time. She couldn’t work because of a broken leg but still had to make her mortgage payments. Needless to say, this was a very stressful period in her life.
Arcelia Diaz first discovered a white spot on her knuckle when she was 29 years old, one year after her accident. She first noticed the spot when her boyfriend proposed to her in Cabo Beach, Mexico. As she was admiring her ring, the spot stood out to her. At first Arcelia thought it was a sun spot and expected it to go away. When she spotted an identical spot on her other hand, she knew it was time to make a doctor’s appointment. The doctor quickly diagnosed the spots as Vitiligo and prescribed her a steroid cream. She was told that the cream could cause skin cancer if she spent any time in the sun, so she decided not to use it.
Arcelia noticed her white patches spreading when she became pregnant with her first child. When she was pregnant with her second child two years later, her spots had spread to her knees, armpits, and thighs. Fast forward another year, she was pregnant again. This was a difficult pregnancy with a lot of issues and complications. Her Vitiligo spots began to spread like wildfire. Arcelia now has white spots covering most of her body. “I am a spotted beauty.”
Thankfully her family was super supportive. They tried to find her a cure at mom and pop drug stores and pharmacies. Her family even tried to get her medicine from Mexico. Even though Arcelia has learned to love the skin she’s in, she would choose to get it reversed if a cure were discovered. She still loves and misses her tan, brown skin tone and the protection it provided her. Being from California, she loves spending time in the sun. It would be so much easier not having to cover herself head to toe in sunblock every hour.
Arcelia’s curiosity lies in why people develop Vitiligo. Even though her uncle has Vitiligo as well, she is not completely convinced it is an autoimmune disease. Disease or no disease, Arcelia tries to stay positive to help reduce her stress levels. “ I have become one with nature and learned to appreciate all that is. It has helped me to accept my circumstances . It has helped me to love myself. I have rebranded myself. I am woman, hear me roar!”
Follow Arcelia’s Vitiligo journey
Photo by Arcelia Diaz
author Tiffany Grant