STORIES
Young Heroes

Abby Roush

by Susan Gabriel Bunn

All About Abby
Child Hero of Brave Health, Big Heart, & Great Debate
Abby as a preschooler
Abby as a preschooler

Atopic eczema is not just about itchy skin rashes. It’s a condition, possibly hereditary, not contagious, that children can be born with. In severe cases, layers of skin fall off, leaving raw skin too tender to imagine. Taking a shower can be so painful that one might cry out loud. Such has been common for ten year old Abby Roush. The Bixby Oklahoma fifth grader has suffered from eczema over most of her body for all of her young life.

The burden of agony for Abby has at times been equally riveting when exposed socially to her peers. “At times kids have treated her like a leper,” says her mother Lucinda Roush. “In pre-school once, kids wouldn’t hold hands with her and said she was dirty.” This level of cruelty can be common among children.

Abby’s response to all of it is uncommon. “It has been hard but it is also kind of a way to know how to get over obstacles. I manage the pain by just ignoring it. I usually say to myself that pain is just a feeling that will go away or just thinking about something else,” says this brave youngster who makes a choice each day to look at the brighter side always.” I stay cheerful by just knowing that there is always an end to these things.”

Abby and her mom Lucinda Roush
Abby and her mom Lucinda Roush

Abby has often been so overcome by the skin eruptions that she has had to stay home from school. “The treatments are just like everyday things like putting a cream or ointment on,” she goes on to describe how she manages this intrusive condition. “Something that has helped me through this is probably music. Sometimes I can just get away from the real world for a little while with it.” An avid guitarist, music is one of a number of wonderful activities she is enthusiastic about.

Abby also loves going to school. Her favorite subject? Science. “Some of my favorite things are music, animals and the ocean. My dreams are to become a marine biologist and study sharks and their behavior.”

At school today Abby’s unusual outlook allows the unpleasant condition to reveal to her who her real friends are.. “It is kind of like my friends don’t even notice it. At first they ask what it is but then after they get to know me they just overlook it like somebody would overlook a typo or something like that.” Her mom says her character is “astounding.”

“Abby is special there is no doubt,” her dad Matt Roush chimes in.” I think it comes directly from God, the way he made her. I guess in that light all parents would say the same thing about their child.” He goes on to say, “Eczema doesn't define your child. The condition helps your child be more empathetic, tolerant, and see others with compassion. I think we can all agree these qualities are difficult to teach, but very desirable indeed.”

Among Abby’s many heroic attributes is an inquisitive mind. “I like school because it is a way to just immerse myself in something other than my skin. I love science because I like to learn about how things work and why. I like to figure things out.”

From a parent’s perspective, Matt Roush says, “Abby has been both easy and difficult to raise. Easy in the sense that she is very sensitive and understanding, so she has an almost innate empathy for other people. She is very obedient in most respects and honest. The difficulty is her stubborn persistence when she wants something. She is a master negotiator.”

Abby and her dad Matt Roush
Abby and her dad Matt Roush

Like daughter is father in terms of positive perspective. Matt Roush sees the benefit of Abby’s strong will, not just an asset for coping with the condition of her skin and the social consequences. “Abby's stubbornness and her conviction to her beliefs make her a great debater. She does not sway with the winds of opinion of those around her. She reminds me of my mother in that respect. She stands up for herself and her friends.”

One such occasion was following the Presidential campaign after Obama claimed a victory. Abby is apparently one of the few ten year old Democrats in what is a largely Republican territory. She confronted several classmates in the hallway one day at school who were clamoring and mimicking what one could surmise as commentary from their parents that Obama would be a threat to the country. “How can you say something about that person if you don’t even know what they’re like?” was her bold remark. With no answer to Abby’s challenge the group dispersed.

“ I don’t really find many people like me,” says Abby. “I don’t really know where I get the courage to stand up and make my point. I guess I know that you only have one life and I try to live it to the fullest and not wonder if I could have made a difference by standing up for what I believe in.”

Abby Roush is a giant hero of mine. To me she stands for bravery, imagination, Love, creativity, compassion and the courage to live in Hope. “ My hopes for the future are that my eczema goes away and that I get into a good college.”

Guess who Abby’s heroes are? “My heroes are Barack Obama, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and my parents. My idea of a hero is someone that never gives up who fights for what they believe in.”

So what if anything would this wise, beyond her years, ten year old say to other kids her age who might be struggling with something big? “ My advice is to stay hopeful and just be open to anything. You never know what may work.”

Page created on 2/28/2009 9:18:43 AM

Last edited 2/28/2009 9:18:43 AM