2017 Stepping Out - Baltimore (Greater Washington DC Chapter)

In Memory of Bertha
In Memory of Bertha

Team Bertha

Dear Friends and Family,


October 2017 will be 10 years since the loss of my best friend, confidant, sister, and mother. Many of you know that she was the world to me! She was truly the wind beneath my wings. It has taken many years to totally accept that she is no longer here. Each year has become easier to talk about her, to listen to her sermons, and to share her wisdom with her beautiful granddaughters, Renarda and Cypress.


In 2005, my mother was diagnosed late with Scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. This diagnosis was made after her symptoms were mistakenly called an overactive adrenal gland where they wanted to go through her brain to being prescribed with a dermatologic cream for the lesions that appeared on her arms. Over time her skin was looking leather like and her lungs were becoming scarred causing labored breathing. Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease. The disease varies from patient to patient and causes serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart and gastrointestinal tract. There are some medications which can ease some of these symptoms but there is NO cure.

During this time, I did not think that she would be gone in less than two years of being diagnosed. I was not at my mom’s side during her last days. I was in the way and just did not make it. Once clinically diagnosed, she was referred to a specialist and at that time had very low lung capacity. She was admitted immediately to the hospital to implement therapies that would increase her lung capability. After the first night, my mother’s blood pressure dropped causing her to be sent to ICU. I was able to speak with her briefly that day. During the second night, she sent into a coma. What an emotional evening with me being on the telephone with my stepdad and my two aunts (my mom’s sisters) while they were reviving her. She coded all night until I requested for them to stop. I often relive those last moments over and over in my head. Sad that I was not there, but thankful that she was not alone. She was truly a women of faith. Keeping her scripture by her side and her meditations in her heart.


Some many things have entered my mind as to the origin of disease, family history that I may not be aware, or if me or my girls will be affected. The exact cause or causes of scleroderma are still unknown, but scientists and medical researchers are working hard to make those determinations. It is known that scleroderma involves an overproduction of collagen. Research indicates that there is a susceptibility gene, which raises the likelihood of getting scleroderma, but by itself does not cause the disease.


There is so much uncertainty with this disease where I have taken a stance to help in finding a cure. Upon her death, I made a commitment to become involved with the Scleroderma Foundation and to bring awareness to this debilitating disease.

In memory of my mother, Bertha Nixon Phillips Tanzymore, I am “Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma” on Saturday, May 20, 2017. 

Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to make a contribution to support my team’s effort to raise funds for people living with scleroderma. To make a donation, click on one of the team members to make a gift towards their fundraising effort to help our team.

If you would like to join our team at the event, and walk and help raise funds, please click on “Join My Team” and follow the directions.

Please help today! Our team sincerely appreciates your support, and we ask you to please share this with anyone who you think might want to help.

Help our team bring more awareness to scleroderma so we can find a cure!

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