One in two Americans lives with a chronic health condition. The experience can be isolating, as it is often hard to find connection with others who understand the experience. Eric Peacock knew that firsthand after developing vitiligo on his knees in the first grade.
“It was embarrassing as a kid,” said Eric, who has vitiligo on most joints and his face today. “I played basketball a lot and wore kneepads to cover it up and avoid the questions.” His pediatrician as a child told him it was very rare (“1 in a million”) and there was nothing he could do about it. And for the next 40 years Eric assumed that was the case.
Fast forward to adulthood and Eric is the cofounder and CEO of a company that creates social networks for people facing chronic conditions. After talking to hundreds of people living with different chronic health conditions, Eric noticed that many consistently talked about a desire to connect with others who shared the same experience and “got it.” In 2012, he and cofounder Mary Ray launched MyHealthTeams, a platform that would allow those with chronic conditions to do just that. Today, MyHealthTeams has 37 condition-specific social networks with more than 2.4 million members that use their mobile and web apps to form connections and get information.
The network for people facing vitiligo – MyVitiligoTeam – was introduced shortly before 2020 to create a space for the 1% of the world’s population living with the autoimmune disease. The platform provides avenues to see others’ updates, connect with members, find resources and ask questions. MyVitiligoTeam partnered with the vitiligo experts at the Global Vitiligo Foundation to provide medical information and education on the social network. In June they hosted a four-hour virtual event for World Vitiligo Day featuring inspirational speakers and vitiligo experts sharing personal stories, research and treatment updates and lifestyle tips.
Since its launch, the platform has grown to more than 3,500 members and includes resources about COVID-19 and vitiligo, types of vitiligo and treatment trials. The site is free, password-protected and monitored. MyVitiligoTeam does not share your personally identifiable information with anyone.
“It’s been amazing for me to meet so many people with vitiligo in the past several months. We want to make it easy to connect with others going through the same thing,” said Eric. “Ultimately, this is about using social networking to empower people with vitiligo and to help improve health outcomes.”
Learn more about My Vitiligo Team and sign up today at https://www.myvitiligoteam.com/.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.