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My Voice: Courtney Shatley

Hi, my name is Courtney Shatley, and I'm 14. I live in Turtle Point, Penn., and I'm an eighth grader. I enjoy cooking and riding our four-wheeler on all the trails around our house.

Courtney Shatley photoSome of the first symptoms of scleroderma that I noticed were major weight loss and Raynaud Phenomenon. I also started to have lots of pain and stiffness in my joints. I went to my pediatrician and they ran many tests. They decided I should go to Dr. Rosen at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for more in-depth tests. After the tests, I was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma.

At first, I was shocked and frightened. My life has changed a lot because of scleroderma. I was in show choir before I was diagnosed, and now I can’t run and play like before. I love being able to dance and sing, but I don’t have the energy anymore.

At the end of last year, I started to miss a lot of school because my so bad. My parents decided it would be best to home school me for the rest of the year. We are hoping that I can go back to school next year.

My family has been supportive since I was diagnosed with scleroderma. Although my siblings have been supportive, they don’t really understand my disease. My friends at school were shocked and didn’t know what to say.

My mom and I love to cook and we decided to put on a “Cooking Up A Storm For Scleroderma” event. Twenty-seven people showed up, and we raised more than $1,000 for the Scleroderma Foundation. We had an appetizer sampler and Caesar salad to start. Then, we made stuffed chicken breasts, rice pilaf and corn casserole. For dessert, we had an assortment of pies.

What I enjoyed about the fundraiser was watching it all come together. I felt like I accomplished something and helped others. In the future, I would like to do a bigger fundraiser.

I want to go to college and train to become a chef. I like to experiment when I cook and seeing if the recipes will turn out the way I want them to. I know that with this disease it may be harder to be chef and that it will be a challenge. Like the saying goes, “Whatever doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger.”

Courtney’s Stuffed Chicken Breasts


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 box (6 ounces) stuffing mix
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 packet seasoned chicken coating (like Shake N Bake)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Chicken gravy


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound the chicken until flat and tender using a meat hammer. Make the stuffing, as directed on the box. Place the cooked stuffing on the chicken, and roll like a jellyroll. Be sure to tuck in the edges. In a shallow dish, mix the bread crumbs and seasoned chicken coating. Roll the chicken in the bread crumbs and seasoned coating mixture. Place in a shallow baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until done. Serve hot with chicken gravy.

Do you love cooking as much as Courtney does? Why not have your own “Cooking Up A Storm” fundraiser. Contact Tracey O. Sperry, Director of Development and Research, at (800) 722-4673, Ext. 248 or email for more information.

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of "Scleroderma Voice" magazine.


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