Having graduated with BSc Hons in Applied and Human Biology in 1995, I was working as a medical rep for Bristol Myers Squibb, when in 1997, aged 24, I was diagnosed with diffuse systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and rayanuds and given a prognosis of 15 months, soon to be wheel chair bound. I was advised by my medical professional, at that time, to give up on my dream of being a barrister, and accept the diagnosis...... I did none of this! I changed my medical professional to international experts of the diagnosis (Dame Prof Black, and Prof Denton) and kept my dreams alive, qualifying as a practising barrister in March 2004. This prompted the medical decision to stop the 2g daily immunosuppressant routine of the previous 5 years, and unfortunately, within 8 weeks, I was forced to cease my 60hour working week and accept that the physical requirements of the role were too much for my body. I relocated to my family home town of Southport, UK. My full time job now, is to manage my symptoms to a controllable level. In 2013 I came out of the scleroderma closet to the world by way of the Daily Mail publishing my story with the headline 'The Real Life Tin Man' and since then I have devoted all of my spare energy to highlighting the plight of the scleroderma patient. In 2013 I became a patient advocate on the NHS England Clinical Reference Group for Specialised Rheumatology. I am honoured to have been a member of the clinical team who compiled the NHS England treatment guidelines for digital ulcers. In 2013, I also became a patient expert with the European Medicines Agency as well as Eurordis. In 2015 I was delighted to be a UK patient advocate for the FESCA World Scleroderma Day event held at the European Parliament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQimB_F2l_4 . I am wholly committed to improving the patient landscape which this diagnosis brings, and I feel very blessed that my symptoms are mild compared to other Ssc patients, whose voices, I hope to include also. Other than being a Ssc parrot, I enjoy relaxing with my dogs and anything which makes me feel good, as one day I want to be able to say I am scleroderma and raynauds free.
Today, Feb. 14, is Valentine’s Day. Scleroderma can affect the heart in various ways. Fibrosis of the heart can be life-threatening, and may contribute to pulmonary arterial hypertension. Upon initial ... Read more
Living with a rare disease that has an unknown cause and no cure is daunting in every way imaginable. For me, managing my scleroderma symptoms, combined with fatigue, mobility challenges, ... Read more
Invisible Disabilities Week, Oct. 15-21, started Sunday, combining with the ongoing October Raynaud’s Awareness Month campaign. It made this a very busy week for our global patient community with ... Read more
Those life-changing words “you have scleroderma” followed by “and Raynaud’s phenomenon” often are met with relief, paradoxically, due to finally having an explanation as to what is happening to ... Read more
Those three words — “You have scleroderma” — followed by — “and Raynaud’s” — have without doubt life-changing, if not life-threatening, consequences. In this column, I discuss the day-to-day ... Read more
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