I am an American actor based in London. I currently live with severe asthma, food allergy, contact dermatitis, cross pollen food syndrome and gluten intolerance. I was diagnosed with allergies and asthma at the age of four. I am allergic to dust mites, grass and tree pollen, ragweed, dogs, cats, horses, and more.
When I was a child, my siblings used to call me ''The Bubble Child.'' I was allergic to almost everything - except cows. I found my freedom to pet cows ironic and funny. Who knew I could pet a cow and not a dog without an allergic reaction?!
I have chosen not to allow allergies or asthma to hold me back from obtaining goals.
As a child and teenager, I performed gymnastics and ballet several days a week. I grew in developing my own understanding to ensure safety of my lungs. I learned how to stretch my body physically and build physical endurance.
I always had an emergency inhaler with me - I take an inhaler on the dance floor to the side of the stage, where I have quick access in case of an emergency during a performance. Growing up, my mother informed my teachers, dance instructors and gymnastic coaches about the severity of my asthma attacks.
Each of my life-threatening allergic reactions were crucial in helping me understand 'when' and 'how' to ask for help. Even as a little girl, I knew the value of air.
Allergies and air quality
My allergic symptoms are directly affected by outdoor air quality. I have definitely noticed a link between outdoor air pollution on busy high streets and high-traffic areas as a direct trigger for my allergies. I have also noticed that environmental air pollution seems to cause exacerbations of my eczema and atopic dermatitis symptoms.
I chose to relocate to an area of better air quality in North London compared to where I lived previously in central London. Important to note, not everybody with asthma can afford to relocate to a clean air zone. This leads me provide some advice for people living with allergies:
- Identify your triggers and listen to your body.
- Do not delay to ask for help.
- Follow a Personal Asthma Action Plan (PAAP).
- Explain your allergies to your family, friends, neighbours, teachers and co-workers.
- Be confident - you are allergic, along with many others.
- Plan ahead for an emergency - bring your inhalers, antihistamines, and/or adrenaline auto-injectors with you at all times
- Be proactive – get involved with organisations and legislation as a way to help ensure cleaner air quality.
I feel it is important for us to work together to commit to change which ensures better life quality. We can boost awareness together, by partnering up to combat air pollution and ensure clean air within our cities. I feel honoured to support Allergy UK in our fight to breathe fresh air.