Eight years ago, Jessica Massengale was diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that causes scaring in her skin and some internal organs. She had been raised thinking she could do anything if she tried, and Jessica Massengale decided she would not suffer alone or in silence. Therefore, she created the project Scleroderma Strong, which started as a small page for her to share the alterations in her body caused by the disease, but has grown to a community of scleroderma survivors.
“Scleroderma Strong is defined as someone affected by the disease who chooses to handle it with powerful positivity,” the website of the project explains. “We are a community of survivors who do not give up. It’s not even a part of our vocabulary. This website highlights different aspects of scleroderma straight from the warriors on the battlefield. If you need some inspiration to brighten up your day, you’ve come to the right place.”
The main work of the Scleroderma Strong project focuses on inspiring others to fight the disease. To do so, every month, Jessica Massengale shares the story of the “Warrior of the Month,” from someone who is battling scleroderma. In addition, everyone is invited to share photos and quotes on social media showing how they are “Sclero Strong.” Jessica Massengale is also determined to raise awareness about the use of stem cell treatments for scleroderma.
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