Standing Hand-in-Hand for Scleroderma

While Sheri Hicks was living in Tuscon, Arizona, and tending to her 1-year-old son, she began to notice painful ulcers on her fingertips. As the ulcers persisted, they became unbearable. Little did Hicks know, it would be another long and painful year before she got any answers.

In January 2007, doctors were finally able to link Hicks’ painful swollen fingers to a rare disease known as scleroderma.

“I could hardly pronounce it, let alone understand it,” says Hicks. “I knew I couldn’t ignore it. I had to set boundaries for myself and even had to teach myself a really important word: no.”

Scleroderma, a chronic connective tissue disease that hardens the skin, began to affect every part of Hicks’ life.

“I couldn’t go to social gatherings, I had to stop running, and vacations stopped too,” says Hicks.

After reaching a point of exhaustion, Hicks and her husband relocated to Michigan, uniting her with supportive family and friends. Today, she is being treated by physicians in the University of Michigan Health System Scleroderma Program, directed by Dinesh Khanna, M.D., M.S. It is here Hicks found a reason to believe in a cure. As one of the top treatment facilities in the country, the team in Khanna’s scleroderma research lab has discovered a compound that could provide an effective new treatment. However, more funding and research is needed to make this treatment a reality. Learning of the potential for a cure motivated Hicks to start fundraising for research.

Hicks joined Scleroderma Hand In Hand, an organization that works to connect patients and fundraise for the University of Michigan Scleroderma Care Fund. As an active member, Hicks works to garner awareness of the disease and most importantly fundraise for a cure. Hicks and friends of the organization host silent auctions, golf outings and more. In fall 2013, Hicks and her friends from the group were able to raise $10,000 through a spaghetti dinner. However, due to her condition, fundraising is not always an easy task.

“It’s hard to predict what I will feel like day to day,” says Hicks. “It is hard for me to accomplish simple tasks I once took for granted, such as chopping vegetables, putting on jewelry, crafting and even tying my own shoes on some days.”

Yet, Hicks won’t let her condition slow her down. As doctors are on the brink of a breakthrough for scleroderma, Hicks promises she will not stop fighting for a cure through her fundraising efforts.

“When you feel passionate about something, you have to just jump in. You have to start somewhere and just do it. You have to stay positive and focus on exactly what you want,” she says. 

To learn more about Scleroderma Hand In Hand, visit