In 1992, I started having trouble eating, severe constipation, hair loss, broken blood vessels, hyperpigmentation on my face and endometriosis. In 1995, doctors did an ANA test [antinuclear antibody test, a primary test to evaluate patients for autoimmune disorders] and a biopsy of my face and finger, which came back positive for scleroderma.
On a daily basis, I have fatigue and joint pain. I also have difficulty getting enough nutrition, because I have gastroparesis [a disease in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food normally] as well as motility problems in my esophagus, stomach and intestines. My gastroenterologist injects Botox into my stomach and esophagus and dilates them both every three months. I drink shakes daily because that’s all my stomach and intestines can tolerate. I also have stage three kidney disease, so I try to drink 100 ounces of water daily.
Despite these challenges, I run a support group for Scleroderma Burlington/Camden County in New Jersey, volunteer at Delaware Valley Chapter for Scleroderma, and do public service announcements nationally for Scleroderma Walks. I also just won the Mrs. New Jersey-New England States pageant, I’m Mrs. Camden County New Jersey, and I’m going for Mrs. New Jersey America. My platform is scleroderma so I can bring awareness to this disease.