It’s quite rare for a child to be diagnosed with scleroderma. According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are only between 5,000 and 7,000 children in the United States who have the disease. Of those affected, two-thirds are female.
McCoy Penland was just 4 years old when her mother, Tara Penland, noticed she had a sudden lack of energy and was constantly scratching her body. As time went on, her trunk started to harden. At first, doctors thought that McCoy was suffering from eczema and that the hardening of her trunk was due to constipation.
Unsatisfied with the diagnosis, the Penland family took McCoy to another doctor who explained that she was experiencing symptoms of scleroderma and referred her to a rheumatologist who diagnosed her with juvenile diffuse systemic scleroderma (JSSc). Find out more about diffuse systemic scleroderma here.
Because her scleroderma was diagnosed quickly, the family was able to start treatment promptly. McCoy’s initial treatment began with a year of Cytoxan chemotherapy followed by immunotheraphy with rituximab. McCoy’s symptoms have halted following the treatments and she is now living a happy, healthy life playing soccer, practising the violin and enjoying time with her family and friends. As a 7-year-old, she is also now a face of the Scleroderma Foundation helping to raise awareness of pediatric scleroderma. Find out more about McCoy’s story here.
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