She was a feisty little girl who loved to sing and dance! Our sister, Rita Haggerty has raised two beautiful children, has worked hard and is now facing a life threatening disease-scleroderma.
Scleroderma is an auto-immune disease in which your body over produces collagen. Wow, you say. No Botox needed here! You are right. And though rare, scleroderma does not typically attack ones body as viciously as it has Rita.
What has happened for Rita is that her body is producing so much collagen that she is “Barbie doll hard” over much of her body. Her physicians at Northwestern Univ Med and in Colorado have never seen this rare disease progress so quickly. You and I have a “skin score” of 0. Complete “hardness” is a score of 51. Rita was a 0 in September 2018; today, Rita’s skin score is 38 and continues to progress.
Rita is no longer able to drive. Her ability to walk, eat and care for herself are extremely limited and painful. She is blessed to have two loving kids, along with family and friends who take turns helping. Thank goodness she is still able to talk though she has lost the ability to sing, which was a joy in her life.
Rita's specialists at Northwestern Univ. Med have connected her with stem cell transplant experts at Presbyterian/St. Luke's, Denver, CO. Rita will be able to spend the Christmas holiday with family and friends, heading to Denver January 5 for the final round of testing and appointments. She will then return to Denver January 19 to begin formal stem cell transplant procedures. Once in Denver, she will spend between 8-12 weeks there. She will be in-patient for 3 weeks and the remaining time will be out-patient treatment, where she will need a 24/7 caregiver with her. The great news—in newly approved stem cell therapy, studies have proven 96% improvement in the reduction of collagen—it can actually reverse symptoms. And, while she will always have scleroderma, it will become manageable, allowing her to return to a more normal life.
Once in Denver, regular updates will be added to the Caring Bridge Site. So many have shared not only dollars, but prayers and good wishes. Each and every one of these make a difference. Thanks to a very successful fundraiser and the generosity of over 450 donors, over $30,000 was raised. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.