If you have one autoimmune disease, your chances for getting others increase. And no one knows that better than Bobbie Jo. She was first diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease in 1982, and then lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome shortly afterward. Despite her challenges, she gave birth to two healthy children, a son and daughter. After her son was born, she went blind for three weeks, which doctors attributed to her multiple mixed connective tissue disorders.
Several bouts of pneumonia landed Bobbie Jo in the hospital in 2004, where she was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and then scleroderma. The scleroderma has led to many gastrointestinal problems. She has also suffered from vocal cord paralysis caused by her Sjogren’s syndrome.
Despite this long list of problems, Bobbie Jo’s attitude is amazingly positive. She loves cooking and baking, takes line-dancing classes and likes to quilt. She enjoys spending time with her son, daughter and grandchildren. She volunteers for the Scleroderma Foundation and at her church, where she is a Eucharistic minister, and she is also working to spread awareness of scleroderma in the Spanish-speaking community (she is fluent in Spanish). Though her lungs have suffered significant damage, she keeps fighting on; her doctors have told her she has “the lives of a cat.”