Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2016 Contents She wrestled
daily with thoughts
of never becoming better or
finding someone to love and accept her.
Then she met Ishaan Poonwassie.
"It s been three years since I really
found love and it s like he makes me feel
like he does not see the spots. He sees
me for who I am. I can be myself around
him, and he just accepts my moments
and moves on," she said.
She also found inspiration from the
story of Chantelle Brown-Young, a model
on Cycle 21 of America s Next Top
Living with vitiligo
abriella Celene Biswah s
huge, beautiful eyes are
what caught my attention
the first time I met her.
She got onto the hospital
bed, took out her mobile
phone, looked around the
ward, shrugged her petite
shoulders and resigned
herself to her to the stay at the institution.
It would be one of 20-plus stays since she
was 13 and diagnosed with vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a condition in which the pig-
ment is lost from areas of the skin, causing
whitish patches across the body, often with
no clear cause.
While the last seven years have been
more downhill than up for this 20-year-
old woman, her condition has now come
to represent her fate in life.
"I am angry now, but for different rea-
sons. I am mad when I see people taking
their organs for granted.
"It irks me to see young people smok-
ing and drinking, when there are sick
people out there who would literally
die for a clean lung or alcohol-free
liver," she said shaking her head.
But wait, how does one go from
having vitiligo, which is not
chronic or life-threatening, to
being hospitalised on so many
Biswah s health struggles began
when as a student of Asja Girls College
she saw the first spot on her body.
In a panic, Biswah said her parents, Nigel
and Hanisha, took her to a private doctor.
"I researched the hell out of the condition
and became even more scared finding out
how progressive it could become.
"Then we sought a second opinion," she
It was this second opinion and the doc-
tor s prescription which the family believes
led to Biswah s condition worsening.
Biswah was prescribed a heavy dose of
steroids by the well-known doctor, whom
her family trusted "100 per cent."
She claimed the pharmacist questioned
that it was too much for her small body
structure and age, but the drug was admin-
istered anyway. She took the drugs, her
Counselling was recommended and
Biswah was later introduced to a young
woman whose whole body was a whitish
The meeting, she said, was meant to
inspire her to accept the condition, but it
did quite the opposite.
Added to this were the bouts of illnesses
and days which she missed from school.
"I begun feeling sick, weak, having
headaches, vomiting and losing weight
even though I was always hungry.
"I had numerous trips to the bathroom.
Eventually it was my grandmom, Radhika,
a diabetic, who saw it for what it is," she
A blood sugar test was done and she
was taken to a private doctor, then rushed
to San Fernando General Hospital.
Biswah was eventually
diagnosed with Graves
Disease, Type 1
had to take
four shots of
this, the sup-
port of teachers
and classmates at
school saw her attain
a full certificate at CXC,
with several grade ones and distinctions
among the seven subjects passed.
Eventually, Biswah s organs became
affected and she also developed heart dis-
ease and polycystic ovaries.
By 17, she would have her first surgery
for a ruptured appendix and cyst.
Last year, she survived a second proce-
dure for an infected abscess on her body.
Biswah admitted that battling the many
diseases which afflicted her emotionally
and physically caused her to have suicidal
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2016
her own skin
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
yourself, don't take your
body for granted. Don't ill-
treat it because you feel you are
as strong as an ox, fit as a fiddle
or can over indulge in drinking,
smoking today and feel
fine the next day. Stop
taking for granted
what others can only
pray and hope for.
Continues on Page A27
Biswah also found inspiration
from the story of Chantell
Brown-Young, a model on Cycle
21 of America's Next Top Model,
who was discovered by
producer Tyra Banks on
Instagram. Brown-Young, who
was just four when diagnosed
with vitiligo, was bullied at
school because of her condition.
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