Support group formed for scleroderma patients
A Birkenhead woman has set up a support group for people living with scleroderma in Auckland.
Scleroderma is a rare rheumatic, autoimmune disease that hardens skin and connective tissues, turning organs effectively to stone. It is incurable.
Ann Wills discovered she had the disease 25 years ago, as a teacher in her early 20s.
She had been having pain in her hands, which she thought could be an allergic reaction to chalk dust, when she was diagnosed.
She had never heard of scleroderma before. While she has been lucky in her medical care, she believed many other people with scleroderma lacked the resources and support they needed.
Wills knew of no current support groups for scleroderma north of Hamilton, but thought socialising with people who understood what it was like to live was the disease was important.
She decided to organise a gathering of people with the disease every two months. The first meeting was held at the end of August.
‘‘It’s more than a coffee group,’’ Wills said. ‘‘It’s friendship, support, education.’’
The Auckland scleroderma support group met for the first time at the end of August.