Patient Perspectives

Usman's story

Usman knows that disease education is fundamental to improving people’s perception of his condition. So after spending his childhood in Pakistan struggling with the stigma of psoriasis, he traveled to the UK to pursue a career in medicine and become an advocate for increasing awareness about diseases like his own. Learn more about how Usman’s work at BMS is giving hope to patients like himself. 

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Video Transcript

[Usman]:  


My name is Usman.

I've been working with BMS for the last eight years, since 2016.

I'm a medical doctor by background.

I was trained at Oxford.

And then I completed my fellowship in pharmaceutical medicine.

I was born in the northern part of the Punjab, in Pakistan, called Rawalpindi.

I remember as a child I was a very active and happy child.

I love sports, outdoor sports.

But then at about eight or nine years old, I started noticing a lot of pustules on both of my legs.

Kids naturally thought that it may be contagious, because it looked horrible.

Sometimes, you know, because I’d itch a lot, they used to bleed a lot as well.

So I used to keep my legs covered all the time.

The diagnosis was given to my parents that it's a lifelong disease and it's called psoriasis.

There was no real treatment for psoriasis, and it was just thought that it's a disease of the skin.

Now we know that it is not the disease of the skin.

It’s the disease of the immune system and it manifests on the skin.

I never learned swimming, because I was so shy of wearing a swimming costume with my friends, that everybody would make fun of me or will ask questions and I wouldn’t be able to answer those questions.

Certainly, psoriasis had an impact on my decision-making going forward.

I went to medical school in 1994, and that was the first time I learned about psoriasis.

I came to London to start looking for a job. It was a real struggle.

We were standing outside Manchester Airport. 

There was nowhere to go, because I didn't know anybody in the UK.

Finally, I got a license after one year to practice as a doctor, and then I did my residency.

I will always have psoriasis.

Even today, I have psoriasis.

So I will have it maybe on my elbows a little bit, maybe the back of my years, a little bit of scalp.

Scalp is quite a nuisance, actually.

Every now and then I have to wear dinner jackets and I am very reluctant to do that because I have scalp psoriasis.

And I am very aware of the situation that there may be a lot of scuff on my shoulders.

I make sure that just an hour before, I take a bath with tar-containing shampoos and apply a lot of gel, and I try to hide it.

We are very fortunate that we live here, and there are a lot of nice wood walks here.

So as a family, we go out in the woods almost every single day.

I also teach table tennis to my daughter.I listen to her poems and her stories.

But you won't be a Punjabi if you don't know cricket or if you don't play cricket.

I learned a lot from cricket. 

Cricket is one of the rare sports that allows you to reflect during the game. And that's a great learning platform that allows you to analyze your mistakes, that allows you to course-correct your mistakes.

So that's why I love cricket.

Cricket is my passion.

Psoriasis also has a very strong genetic association, and it was always a worry whether my kids would get it or not.

I remember about two years ago that my wife called me once and she told me to come and look at Aman’s head.

I saw half of her scalp was covered with this redness and flakiness, and I immediately saw it and I immediately recognized it that it’s scalp psoriasis.

Because she feels itchy, she tends to scratch it and it will bleed and she will come to me, “My ear is bleeding.” And then I started explaining to her, “This is what Baba has.”

It can be kind of annoying when it’s in my ear, because some people can notice, like my friends at school can notice.

It's good to teach people that, actually, it's not infectious. It's not disgusting or anything to be panicked about, and it's actually something that should be more known to the world.

2005.

We were in Pakistan.

My son was seven months old.

We knew there was something wrong with him.

He was not holding his neck.

We saw this child specialist and he looked at our son and he said to me and my wife, “Look, not much can be done.

It’s severe cerebral palsy. 

The life span will be short and such children do not live more than four or five years.”

And we came out of that clinic and we had tears in our eyes and it was such a shock.

And now when I reflect back, there was an opportunity for the doctor to break that news in a much better way.

Because it's not always curing the disease.

There's a lot more than that.

Explaining the disease to the patient, explaining what can we do rather than what can we not do.

And we still have our son with us.

Now he's 18 and a half years old.

We can take him outdoors.

We can take him to the swimming pool and we can stand in the pool with him.

My son was an inspiration and a motivation not for just me, but for the whole family.

I think what persuaded me to become a doctor was my personal situation.

Helping patients, supporting people, working with people, making a difference in people's lives.

And I'm so privileged to be working with Bristol Myers Squibb, because everything that we do at BMS revolves around patients.

It's important that you bring the patient’s considerations into it.

You involve the patient, you explain to the patient, you give them the knowledge, and education, awareness, and the tools to cope with it, so that they deal with it with confidence.

Whatever happened in my life and whatever I am going through has made me who I am.

And if I had to rewrite the script of my life, I would write every single day as it is.

 

 

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