Project Description


My name is Alfreda and I’m a 41-year-old woman from Sacramento, California, and I have HS. This is my HS Origin Story.

I initially got my first boil when I was sixteen, but at seventeen I started getting more of them. I grew up in Arkansas, so home remedies were the solution for almost everything in my family. Because of this, I did not go to the Doctor when my symptoms first started. I was just a young teen and had no idea at the time that if I had gone to the Doctor, then maybe my HS wouldn’t have gotten worse. 

The sad part is I was misdiagnosed with an STD prior to my proper HS diagnosis in 2013. I then saw a Nurse Practitioner who properly diagnosed me. Her name was Mia Smitt and I will forever love and be thankful for her because she was someone who truly cared for her patients. She is an amazing woman who helped me so much. HS has 3 stages of severity, and I am in Stage 3. Along with having HS I am diabetic, and I think there is something else going on but I don’t know what yet.

I don’t have an exact treatment plan at the moment. I take Bactrim when I have a flare-up and I clean the area with Hibiclens. I also use Cetaphil to shower with because everything else doesn’t help and just makes the situation worse. I have also had one surgery on my right armpit.

One area of my life that HS has impacted is my confidence. I think living with HS from an early age has impacted it and I feel I could have been a different person with more confidence. HS can make you feel uncomfortable and gross and I deal with it a lot better now, but as a teenage girl it was so hard for me socially. As far as work goes, I never let my HS stop me.

I’ve had a number of jobs while living with HS. I was a caregiver for many years until my client passed away. Now I am a Driver, Paparazzi Consultant, and Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. I must say that over the years, I have learned to deal with the pain and I never miss a beat, no matter what I am going through. I have worked my whole life and I still am.

When I’m trying to stay positive, I have two things that help. The person who I can always count on is my boyfriend because he makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. Also, I just cry and let it out and then I pick myself up and I say “You got this, girl!”

I haven’t opened up to everyone about my HS, just a few people. The reason isn’t that I am ashamed, it’s just that I have always been a private person. The Hero I most rely on is me. My boyfriend is very supportive, but he can never truly understand what I am going through. So I have to be my own Hero.

The only tip I have for other HS Heroes is that you have to find what works for you. Also, try not to let it get you too down because there is always someone going through something worse than what you are going through.

I think I have had a lot of positive experiences related to my HS, but the best one was the day I finally got the proper diagnosis. If I could tell an HS Hero who was struggling anything, it would be to  find out what works for you. Try not to stress too much, you are worthy of love and you do not have to feel ashamed!