Living with Scleroderma

#SayScleroderma: Chip’s Story

By June 23, 2022No Comments

Our third story of Scleroderma Awareness Month starts more than 31 years ago. Chip had “what I thought was an ingrown fingernail on my right index finger.” A game of golf helped him realize it was something far more serious.

“I happened to be playing with a dear friend who is an orthopedic surgeon,” says Chip. “He was concerned enough that he had me come into his office on that Monday.” After initial misdiagnosis as an infection, his doctors realized they were actually looking at a symptom of scleroderma, and Chip was correctly diagnosed in 1991.

Chip continued to struggle with ulcers on that finger, and the doctors eventually “took a small part of my finger tip off.” He still has finger ulcers from time to time. He also now manages peripheral artery disease and pulmonary hypertension, both caused by scleroderma. Through innovative stem cell transplants for the former, and “medication that has been a true godsend” for the latter, he keeps these more serious complications in check.

Cold weather is also a problem—Chip even moved to Florida from Indianapolis to seek warmth. “I miss our friends in a big way and it is a totally different life now,” he says. But he still prioritizes his passions. “I am still active, and I still play a bit of golf,” Chip says. “I know the day is coming when I will not be able to hold a golf club anymore, but I am not quite ready for that.”

After living with this disease for so long, Chip wants to do all that he can to spread awareness and advocate for research for a cure. “Having systemic scleroderma, I have already beaten the odds of living by a long shot,“ Chip says. “I truly believe I am still here to help others in any way possible with this awful disease.” #SayScleroderma