Though you’ve probably come across many people who have been supportive and loving partners to those struggling with chronic illnesses, you might not have come across Anjel Marii.
As the President and CEO of The Mama Au Inc., Anjel created a line of natural skincare products to help people who suffer with HS. Her partner, who has battled the disease for years, inspired her venture.
“The Mama Au is a brand focused on creating organic, natural, and Manuka honey infused skincare products for anyone who has been diagnosed with a chronic auto-inflammatory skin condition,” she explained. “It has become The Mama Au’s primary mission to bridge the gap between Hidradenitis Suppurativa and peace of mind. Due to a lack of products tailored towards people who suffer from HS, I have created a wholesome product line as a solution for self-care treatments of lesions and open wounds at home.”
Home was also where Anjel’s inspiration came from.
“There was a moment where my fiancé was suffering from a series of flares on various parts of his body,” she explained. “He was fighting a terrible infection in the crease of his armpit, several lumps had formed in his groin area and on his buttocks. As a flatbed truck driver, he is required to climb onto his trailer and strap down open deck loads. Not only that, his drive time can be up to 10 hours per day.” Anjel shared that her partner’s condition was “intensely painful,” and she wanted to do something to help, especially considering that he was thousands of miles from home.
“My intuition guided me to create a natural remedy to specifically target all symptoms associated with having Hidradenitis Suppurativa,” she said. “I hand picked organic ingredients from around the world and carefully formulated what is known today as, The Mama Au’s Manuka Honey Salve.”
When she first met her fiancé, he was already experiencing symptoms, but it wasn’t until she did some research of her own that she stumbled upon HS, and knew definitively that is what he was struggling with for almost a decade.
As far as it has impacted her and her partner’s life, Anjel cited the “lack of control” being particularly difficult to cope with. “You could be thriving and enjoying life, and BOOM! All of a sudden, your body is in excruciating pain,” she said. “You have sore under arms limiting your range of motion, pus filled abscesses that can drain at any given moment and the high possibility of severe body odor emitted from open sores.”
Anjel says that HS has impacted her partner’s ability to work comfortably, has preoccupied his mind to where he “cannot be present” for his kids, and sometimes even affects their relationship.”The stigma surrounding chronic diseases, and the shame associated with appearance and smell has affected my partner’s self esteem,” she said. “However, after all that has been said, he continues to fight like a warrior, and so do I.”
Anjel says that her advice to anyone who has been diagnosed with HS (or knows someone who has) is to know that you do not have to be their sole support system.
“I looked for interactive resources for my partner to directly benefit from and educational resources to help me fully grasp the meaning of this disease; in terms of how it affected my partner in ways I could not see,” she said. “What I found were a plethora of support groups available on Facebook, local meetups in nearby cities, chronic illness therapy, and HSconnect.org, a website created by HS advocates who are passionate about sharing their stories, dedicated to helping HS sufferers navigate through this disease; physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Anjel wishes that everyone understood that though it is largely an invisible illness, it is listed as one of the most painful conditions in the world. “As a whole, we have to do better with our awareness,” she said. It is a disservice to humanity when we decide not to care and withhold kindness; whether people acknowledge their chronic illnesses out loud or not.”