Greg Cohen, 40

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In the summer of 2014, I started noticing my first symptoms of scleroderma. I experienced numbness, and a swollen feeling in my hands even without the appearance of swelling. One Sunday while I was going into work, I decided to go into urgent care because I couldn’t feel my left hand at all. I was told I had bilateral carpal tunnel, which didn’t seem right because I don’t typically work at a computer. I then went to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s. Soon after, I began experiencing painful digital ulcers and my wife urged me to return to the doctor. After three years of symptoms, I was officially diagnosed in April of 2017 with limited systemic scleroderma.

I never considered myself to be much of a runner, but I have always had a passion for fitness. I was a competitive wrestler, I enjoy CrossFit, and work for a nationally acclaimed fitness company. After receiving my diagnosis, I decided to sign up for the upcoming LA marathon. I fundraised from friends, family and strangers and ended up raising over $5,500 for scleroderma. I ran the 26.2 miles as a patient, and an advocate to fight this disease. This year, I successfully completed my second run in the LA marathon since my diagnosis, living up to my plan to run the marathon each year from now on. I lived an active life before scleroderma, and I continue to live an active life now. I want to inspire others living with autoimmune diseases to stay active and challenge themselves. I currently take blood pressure medication for Raynaud’s and digital ulcers, GERD and my thyroid, and follow a strict anti-inflammatory diet. But I don’t let any of that stand in my way.

Even with scleroderma, I use fitness to keep myself mentally and physically healthy, and to inspire others with my dedication to health. With support from friends and family, I decided to return to school and I am currently working on my master’s in public health with a focus in Lifestyle Management. I am not going to stop pushing myself or others. Whether it’s crossing another marathon finish line, raising money for scleroderma, advocating for a cure or simply inspiring one patient with the belief that they can do it. I will continue to live a healthy, active life and hopefully inspire others along the way.