My interest in Scleroderma is based upon personal experience and my own need to be further educated. I first heard of the disease when my older sister Meredith “Duffy” became afflicted with it. She contracted it after her treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The treatment of AML and the stem cell transplant she received caused her to have GVHD (Graft Versus Host Disease). GVHD is a complication that can occur after a transplant in which the newly transplanted stem cells attack the transplant recipient's body. This reaction to the stem cell transplant GVHD suppresses your immune system which can make you susceptible to other illnesses and diseases. Scleroderma found its way into her system like a harmful parasite.
What is Scleroderma? Who gets it? What are the different types? Is it manageable and treatable? Scleroderma is a connective tissue disease that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs. It is a type of autoimmune disorder, a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. The cause of scleroderma is unknown. People with this condition have a buildup of a substance called collagen in the skin and other organs. Collagen that is buildup and not normally broken down causes the accumulation of collagen called fibrosis. In SSc, excess collagen causes fibrosis in the heart, lungs, and the muscles that line the GI tract . The collagen causes fibroblasts within the collagen to overactive causing scar tissue damage, decreased flexibility, and malfunction of the organ involved. This buildup leads to the symptoms of the disease and it can cause organ failure if collagen made in excesses interferes with normal organ function ("Scleroderma: Crest syndrome;" 2011).
Scleroderma is not contagious; it is not infectious; it is not cancerous or malignant. There are an estimated 300,000 people in the United States who have...