Demeshia Trice is a survivor. Over the course of 15 years, she’s undergone four partial finger amputations. She has ulcers covering her whole body. She requires a caretaker to help her eat, bathe and perform routine daily tasks.
Demeshia is living with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that devastates the lives of over 300,000 people around the nation. In individuals suffering from the disease, the overproduction of collagen causes tightening of the skin and limits mobility. Scleroderma can attack any part of the body and damage internal organs, eventually leading to severe complications or even death.
I first learned about scleroderma from a neighbor affected by the disease. Across the state, thousands of our neighbors suffer from a condition that many of us may not even know how to pronounce. Because there is no cure, advocating for better research and medical development is essential to providing more information and treatment for those living with the disease.
In order to raise awareness about the impact of scleroderma, I introduced legislation that designates the month of June as Scleroderma Awareness Month. Recently, the bill passed through the Ohio General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor John Kasich.
This June marks Ohio’s first recognition of Scleroderma Awareness Month. My hope is that we will succeed in raising awareness and helping to provide a voice for those who live with the daily challenges of scleroderma. Together we can encourage research, education, and support for our neighbors, friends, and family members impacted by the disease so that they have a community of advocates working on their behalf.
For Demeshia Trice, Scleroderma Awareness Month is already making a positive impact:
“We need others in our communities that are suffering to know that there are resources available to them and their families that can make their journey of coping with scleroderma easier.
To me, bringing awareness to scleroderma means having the opportunity to educate all Ohio communities with the knowledge of what the disease is, what it does to the body, treatments available and all the local support groups in Ohio.”
For Demeshia, for my neighbor and for all the Ohioans affected by scleroderma, let’s come together this month to help our state become more educated and supportive.
If you are interested in learning more about scleroderma, please contact the Ohio Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senator Bill Beagle serves the people of Ohio’s 5th Senate District, which includes Miami and Preble Counties as well as portions of Montgomery and Darke Counties. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.