NEA Ambassador Patricia Cervini shares when she was happiest, the talent she'd most like to have and who she considers her eczema heroes.
Published On: May 19, 2021
Last Updated On: Jul 29, 2021
We’re pleased to introduce our new NEA Community Questionnaire. Our first questionnaire was completed by NEA Ambassador Jim Hewlett.
How long have you lived with eczema?
Eczema has impacted me intermittently throughout my life, mostly over the past four years. I spent a year with many sleepless nights, intense itching and depression as a result of the intensity of my eczema. I was fortunate to participate in a clinical study at UC San Francisco several years ago, where I was first introduced to the dupulimab (“Dupxient”) medication. I have continued on the medication post-study, and I am so grateful, as it has significantly reduced the severity of my eczema, and I rarely experience deteriorated quality of life anymore
What is the quality you like most in yourself?
I appreciate my perseverance and persistence in looking for solutions to problems and obstacles. I often find new and creative ways to solve issues, and this keeps me motivated when new challenges present themselves.
Who is your favorite musician?
I have too many “favorites” to list, but some that come to mind include: Elton John, Billy Joel, Sara Bareilles, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Howard Jones, Madonna, Steve Winwood, Bruce Hornsby, Cher, Marvin Gaye, Donna Summer, Cyndi Lauper, James Taylor, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Steve Perry. Music is definitely something that resonates with me, and I have a tough time picking one artist or genre. As long as it’s good music, I’m all ears!
Do you have any pets? What are their names?
I have a domestic white shorthair cat named Roger. He has been with me for five and a half years now, and he is my feline counterpart. We both like to sleep, cuddle, play hard and eat.
Which living person do you most admire?
I don’t think I can limit it to one person, but I admire anyone who works hard to contribute to and make a positive difference in our community. I admire those people who have had to overcome great odds and adversity and are now thriving, and helping others to do so as well.
What was the last great TV show you watched?
I love all the “vintage” TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s. One of my favorites from back in the day is “Lou Grant.” Ed Asner and the rest of the cast were fabulous in their roles as employees at a fictional Los Angeles newspaper. Some of the storylines might seem “ordinary” nowadays, but many of them were pretty cutting edge for their time. The show was entertaining, but also educational. Learning can be fun!
What is your favorite indulgence that makes you flare (but you do it anyway)?
Walking! Sometimes walking can cause me to flare up a bit, but I keep doing it since it makes me happy, helps me burn calories and makes me feel more connected to my community. If I avoid walking during the hottest time of the day, my eczema tends to stay more controlled.
Choose one: A) ability to fly or B) powers of invisibility.
Ability to fly! I hate commuting, and I hate traffic, so flying would be a great way to avoid road rage, parking issues and having to pay bridge tolls! Win win all around!
What do you consider the most common misconception about eczema?
I think many people consider just the “cosmetic” aspect of it and do not understand just how bad the itch can be; and it can cause such a deteriorated quality of life and the feeling of just wanting to stay in bed to not deal with it. I remember days where my skin would appear “clear” and some of my friends would think that I must be feeling good due to the appearance, but I was still feeling the intense itching and heat and tightness.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
One of the greatest loves of my life is continued learning. Every day I look forward to learning or reading something new, and then seeing how I can incorporate that new information into my life. Sometimes the lessons are “hard,” and I may not always want to accept them at first, but the opportunity to continually learn is something that energizes me and keeps me motivated to keep moving forward.
When and where were you happiest?
I was really happy visiting Sydney, Australia back in 2018. It was my first overseas trip, and I loved experiencing life from the other side of the world and being in the opposite season. When I left for my trip, it was summer here. When I arrived in Sydney, it was winter. During the time I was there, the season transitioned to spring, and then when I returned home, it was autumn. I got to experience four seasons in the span of a week and a half!
Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could create more time, so that I could have more time for doing all the things I want to do … as well as have more time for sleep and cat naps!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think my greatest achievement is my ability to work hard to achieve my goals. Whether it is my professional goals of becoming a more creative website and training developer, my extracurricular goals of creating and continually improving my weekly public affairs podcast (“The Smiles Show”) and finding new ways to volunteer and give back to our community, I really enjoy working hard and seeing that hard work pay off … even though it may often take longer than I want, or it might take some unexpected “turns” along the way!
Who are your eczema heroes?
My eczema heroes include anyone who has experienced eczema and is working towards finding ways that help them best address and live with the condition. There is definitely not a “one size fits all” approach for managing this condition, and my heroes include those whose stories encourage or inspire others to not give up, but continue to empower them with information and resources and knowledge. Of course, my eczema heroes also include those in the medical industry, including doctors, nurses and researchers that continue serving those of us with eczema while looking for new ways to manage it.
If you could learn to speak another language, which language would you pick to learn?
Spanish is a language I studied in high school, and I would choose to study it again, since I know many people who speak it, and it would be nice to be able to converse more with them!
What do you most value in your friends?
Their support, humor, playfulness and honesty means a lot to me! Their ability to help me work through tough issues while helping me keep a healthy perspective is so appreciated.
What’s the worst thing about having eczema?
It’s tough not knowing when it might flare or become itchy. The unpredictability of eczema is often very frustrating. It can be very controlled one day, and then quite irritable the next, and it’s not always obvious what the reason might be.
What’s the best thing about having eczema?
Eczema has helped me learn the importance of self-care and taking time to practice meditation and other stress relief practices. It has also helped me realize that we don’t have control over everything in our lives, but we do the best to manage and take things one day at a time.
You’re hosting a dinner party and you can invite any three people you want, living or dead: who do you invite and why?
I would invite the following three people who are no longer with us. Dick Clark: I was always a huge fan of his music countdown programs like “Countdown America,” as well as the “American Bandstand” TV show reruns. I would love to learn more about what it was like creating that dance program and how music really helps bring people together. Jane Jacobs: As a fan of her classic book, “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” I would love to see what she thinks of cities today. And my Grandfather: He was such a fountain of knowledge, and knew so much! I would love to hear his thoughts on the world today and how we can make things even better!
Jim Hewlett is a NEA Ambassador. Learn more and join NEA Ambassadors today.