Login
Group retret 2019 cropped.jpg

E-Newsletter Signup

Please leave this field empty
 

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:
bunny@garthefamily.com

 

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

Vicki and Royce.jpg

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!