Scleroderma is many things to many people...to me, scleroderma is a blessing. Scleroderma has made me the woman I am today. I am strong, I am courageous, I am compassionate, I am loved, I am blessed, I am scleroderma.
I was diagnosed with limited scleroderma when I was 22 yrs old. I had a finger that turned blue, stayed blue for a couple days, was admitted to the hospital, all kinds of tests were done...and 6 days later I was discharged with my limited scleroderma diagnosis. I now know what a blessing that quick diagnosis was.
My first 5 yrs with scleroderma were full of struggles; lots of finger ulcers, lots of medications, lots of hospital visits, lots of doctors. However, also during those years, I met my first scleroderma sister, Susan Wells. She showed me that I was not alone. What a blessing to have a scleroderma sister that could relate to my struggles. Susan and I began a scleroderma support group in Springfield, IL. Unfortunately, soon thereafter, I moved to Omaha, NE. Terry Christensen had started a support group in Omaha, Ne and I attended regularly. After a few months, Terry asked if I would take over the leadership of the support group. I became the Omaha support group leader with enthusiasm! During my leadership in Omaha, the support group began a Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma Walk. I am happy to say that we just celebrated our 10th walk and family day last week!
I have moved again and am now in Ankeny, IA. I have passed the Omaha support group reigns to Cheryll Galvin and have now started another support group here in Ankeny. All of the scleroderma support groups that I have participated in and been a part of have been a blessing to me. God has given me lots of scleroderma brothers and sisters to share my life with. What would my life be like without them? I would not ever want to know. I believe that the support group members are my children. When I spoke at Pat Pfeifer's funeral, her family was surprised to learn that I was her "mom"...especially since she was 60 and I was 35. God has chosen not to give me any biological children; however, He has given me lots of scleroderma kids. My life has been blessed by each and every one of them.
When I spoke at the funeral of my scleroderma sister, Susan Wells, I shared a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson "...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded..." I know that I have succeeded thanks to my many scleroderma blessings. I am strong, I am courageous, I am compassionate, I am loved, I am blessed, I am scleroderma.
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