Scleroderma Education Conference This Week Offers Patients an Array of Workshops, Panels

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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The 19th Annual Scleroderma Foundation National Patient Education Conference is expected to bring together over 600 scleroderma patients, their families, friends, caretakers, and some of the world’s leading healthcare professionals and researchers.

As previously announced, the conference will take place this week, July 21–23, in Chandler, Arizona. The venue is the Sheraton Grand Hotel at Wild Horse Pass.

The three days will feature over 75 educational workshops, seminars, exhibits, and panel discussions led by scleroderma specialists to help inform and educate the patient population, a press release states.

This year will also bring back the ‘Kids and Teens’ program, for young scleroderma patients and their younger family members.

According the conference website, attendees will have the chance to learn new skills and enjoy new experiences, including:

  • Coping with the emotional challenges of living with scleroderma
  • Developing strategies for staying motivated
  • Building a support network among those with similar experiences
  • Learning about current therapies from the medical community
  • Becoming empowered to be a more effective partner in your own health care
  • Discovering ways to increase public awareness of the disease

Two noteworthy conference speakers will be Andrew Botieri and Karen Vasquez.

Botieri, the founder of Total Peak Performance and a motivational speaker, will deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony. He was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma in 1999, and went into coma after a hypertension crisis and renal failure in 2000. He wrote a book, “A Celebration of Life – A Story of Hope, A Miracle and The Power of Attitude,” about overcoming such struggles through perseverance and a positive attitude.

Vasquez, who was diagnosed with scleroderma in 1994, will close the conference. She attended her first support group meeting when she was 23, while the average age of group participants was 55.  Vasquez spent her 20s and 30s being treated by private physicians and those with the Veterans Health Care System. Because women are a minority among veterans, and those with scleroderma even more so, Vasquez quickly became an advocate for better treatment for herself and others, an act she attributes to having saved her life more than once, and with helping her to beat her illness into remission.

She will share this and other key moments in her life story at the conference.

The Scleroderma Foundation has 20 active chapters nationwide, all linked with local support groups that now total over 160.

For information on the conference, registration, and keynote speakers, please access this link or call 1-800 -722-HOPE (4673).