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Northwest Chapter Support Groups

Support Groups provide a forum to share feelings, concerns, information, and as well as a place to offer peer support and encouragement. All our support groups are peer-led. Solicitations or research projects are not conducted at support group meetings.

This schedule is subject to change. Before attending a group for the first time, please call to verify date and time. Groups are free of charge and open to everyone.

Support Groups are currently meeting virtualy, only. Email jgerity@scleroderma.org for online meeting info/links, or if you would like help learning how to connect through Zoom.

*Please contact the support group leader for more information on remote meetings.

Southern Idaho

Southern Idaho Support Group

Virtual meetings every third Saturday (February-October) from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Support Group LeadersKaty Koval, 1KatyKoval@gmail.com, Jamie McGehee, Mcjamro262@gmail.com

Mount Vernon, Washington

North Sound Support Group

Zoom meetings on the second Friday of the month at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (except July)

Support Group Leaders: Joyce Harlan, (360) 927-5392, JoyceHarlan@comcast.net and Vicki Hollmann, (360) 731-7563, VickiHollmann@gmail.com


Olympia/Tacoma Area

South Sound Support Group

The South Sound Scleroderma Group meets via Zoom every third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.

Support Group Leader: Shannan Roby, ShannanRoby@yahoo.com, (360) 250-7897


Tri-Cities Area

For more information about meetings contact Heidi or Chris.

Support Group Leaders: Heidi Santana, Heidi.Santana927@gmail.com, and Chris Slotemaker, charleeslote@yahoo.com, (360) 908-4907


Seattle, Washington

Seattle Support Group

Zoom meetings on the third Thursday of every month from at 2 p.m. Pacific Time. 

Support Group Leader: Kris Garthe, (253) 839-1539, kris@garthefamily.com

>Caregivers Support Group:  

Meets quarterly at the same location in Seattle.
Contact Bunny for more details:


Spokane, Washington

Spokane Support Group

Zoom meetings on the third Monday of every other month at 6 p.m No meetings in July, August, and December.

Support Group Leaders: Seeking volunteers.


Yakima, Washington

Yakima Support Group

The Yakima Support Group is not meeting at this time.
Seeking volunteers.


Vicki's Story

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My scleroderma journey began in September 1995 at the age of 39. I was in Chicago to attend our son's graduation from Navy boot camp. I got a pretty new dress and high heels to wear to the ceremony. When it came time to get ready, I could not begin to get those spiffy new shoes on due to extreme swelling in my feet. When I returned home, I began to have a lot of swelling and numbness in my hands as well.

My family doctor sent me to a neurologist. He suspected I had carpal tunnel syndrome from my many years of working as a medical secretary. The neurologist took one look at my hands and asked if he could see my feet. I thought, how odd,since I was there to be evaluated for carpal tunnel. When he examined my feet and saw the swelling and color changes, he said, "I'm referring you to a rheumatologist, I believe you have an autoimmune disease." I saw a rheumatologist in October 1995 and over the next few months developed all the symptoms of what was then called CREST.
I received my scleroderma diagnosis in February 1996, now referred to as Limited Systemic Scleroderma.  It has been a roller coaster of various problems over the last 22 years. My biggest challenge is with ulcers, calcinosis, and scleroderma wounds. I have been dealing with debridement and calcinosis removal from my left lower leg for 6 years. The procedures are necessary, but not pleasant! I feel like my plastic surgeon is a good friend, we spend so much time together! I also face challenges with my hands, they are contracted into "claws" and I also get the calcinosis/ulcers on my fingers. I have all kinds of gadgets to help me open things and of course my hubby too!
I was able to continue work as a medical secretary for many years after my diagnosis, working until 2014 when the leg wound pain, fatigue and Raynaud became too much. I was blessed to get Social Security Disability at the age of 60 and on my first application.
During the early years of my disease, I didn't know anyone else who had scleroderma or knew what it was. I learned about a support site called Inspire. I decided to get brave and go to a National Scleroderma Conference in San Francisco with someone I connected with on Inspire.com. That "someone" turned out to be our very own Shelley Van Pelt! Oh my what a wonderful time we had, it was just like we had always been friends! The conference was amazing, so much information to glean and friends to make. I highly recommend that everyone try to attend one if possible!
When we moved to Mount Vernon, I joined the North Sound Scleroderma Support Group. What a joy to get know these amazing folks who are so encouraging and caring. I have had the privilege of being a co-leader these past few years. I am so thankful for everyone in our group, they have become my second family!
I am so thankful for all the support I receive from my family and especially from my husband, Royce, who is my caretaker and biggest supporter. I enjoy short leisurely trips, scrap-booking, playing with our grandchildren and visits from family and friends. 
Scleroderma has changed my life in many ways, but along with all my Sclero-sisters and brothers, I keep fighting and hoping for a cure!