Support for Aunt Colleen

My name is James. I’d like to introduce you to my Godmother Aunt Colleen. Three years ago she was diagnosed with a crippling autoimmune disorder called scleroderma. Scleroderma can take on many forms, and unfortunately Colleen has the most severe - systemic sclerosis. Her own body is attacking her soft tissue and an infectious reaction is ravaging her body.

Colleen is an outgoing, driven person, the life of the party, always helping people out. She worked as a bartender and a hairdresser. Her most important “job” is mom. Her son Stephen just started his freshman year in college. Before the disease stuck her she was always on the go doing something.

Three years ago her life changed. The disease has attacked her digestive system leaving her with severe nausea and irritable bowel. She now starts her day in the bathroom in pain and usually can’t move on to attempting to do some kind of normal activity until well into the afternoon. She has joint pain and muscle weakness and has fallen multiple times recently. Due to the falls, she has sprained her ankle and broken an ankle in another fall. She also has neuropathy in her feet. In addition scleroderma brings further autoimmune disorders and a Colleen has been diagnosed with Reynaud’s, Sjogren’s, and Hashimoto disorder, each adding a set of even more uncomfortable symptoms.

In October Colleen was rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain and had to have emergency surgery. Inflammatory fluid build up inside her spine and put pressure on the nerves - a painful and dangerous condition. Thankfully the surgery was successful.

Her whole life has changed. Even simple things are reminders of the disease - she can’t snap her fingers because of the pain. She can no longer work, she barely leaves the house.

This means that she has not been able to enjoy the experiences she loves so much. Parents’ weekend at the university was too challenging. Work is out of the question. She can no longer do everyday chores like cleaning. She loves cooking and even used to cook for the entire neighborhood, but can no longer do this either.

This has had an emotional impact on Colleen and the entire family. To make matters more challenging insurance is refusing to approve further therapies and specialists. This added financial burden, along with the financial cost of putting her son through college has her and her family at a breaking point.

Colleen isn’t one to ask for help.  When I was visiting recently after her surgery she insisted on doing as much as she could even though I was there to help. I have decided to create this page to do something she won’t - ask for help. Many people have showed her kindness since being diagnosed and we are deeply thankful for that. The family is helping as much as we can. But unfortunately the disease continues to progress. She needs help - to supplement the missing income, pay medical bills, and ensure her son gets through his studies.

We would greatly appreciate any support you could provide. We can’t ease the pain, but we can take other burdens off of her and her family.

Thank you - please share this if you can.
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James Glen Dymond
Williamstown, NJ

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