Cindy Roper's Story

Cindy Roper is happiest when she is riding her horse. When a mysterious and painful skin condition prevented her from enjoying this and nearly every other aspect of her life, she sought help at National Jewish Health. Today, she is able to take the reins of her horse—and her life—again. 

During a stressful time in her life, Cindy noticed that the skin on her hands started to crack and bleed, leaving open sores on her hands.

She visited numerous specialists in her home state of New Mexico. They said she had “some kind of eczema,” but no one could tell her what was causing the painful outbreaks on her hands.

“I tried everything to fix it topically, wrapped my hands in goo, avoided getting them wet – but nothing helped,” Cindy says. “I started wearing gloves to protect my hands. I didn’t want to go out in public because of the looks and questions I got.”

She eventually had to give up her job as a caretaker of a horse farm because of the pain.

“My hands hurt every hour of every day of every week,” Cindy says. “I thought I would have to live the rest of my life with this hideous thing.”

For eight years, she continued to seek help. Finally an allergist told her that she should look into National Jewish Health because it had “amazing success with skin issues.”

“I had no idea what she was talking about, but I thought I might as well pursue it,” Cindy says. “I was at my wits’ end.”

She came for a six-day appointment, where her care was led by Richard Weber, MD, a professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Weber is also president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, a national association of 5,700 allergists, immunologists and allied health care professionals.

“I got my schedule and realized that the doctors were going to leave no stone unturned,” Cindy says. “There was a whole team of people who wanted to get to the bottom of this.”

She was “over the moon happy” to finally get a diagnosis: contact dermatitis. An allergy to fragrance had caused the irritation to her skin.

“Every single product in my bathroom had fragrance – shampoo, soap, bath gel, makeup,” she says. “I rid my house of everything I was allergic to.”

Within three months, Cindy’s hands were healed.

“The most amazing thing for me was petting my animals with my bare hands,” she says. “I’m so blessed to have found my way to National Jewish Health.”