Mary Beth Lovejoy is dedicated to generating awareness about scleroderma, a chronic, often progressive auto-immune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. She also hopes to raise awareness of the various support groups in the area available to those suffering from the disease.
"A large number of people diagnosed with the disease don't know there are local support groups and activities in central New York," Lovejoy said.
As a new member of the Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce, Lovejoy will help raise money and awareness for scleroderma by holding a wine-tasting fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday at the Red Mill Inn.
Difficult to diagnose
Lovejoy was first introduced to scleroderma through her friend, Dr. Joseph Camerino of Baldwinsville, whose mother, Viola, was diagnosed with the disease. Lovejoy was close to Viola and provided daily care, companionship and friendship to her. As the disease progressed, Viola's esophagus, kidneys and dexterity deteriorated. Viola lost her battle with the disease on March 17, 2001.
Since his mother's passing, Dr. Camerino has become the chairperson of National Foundation of Scleroderma. He and Lovejoy work together on various efforts to help bring awareness about the disease.
Lovejoy said part of the difficulty with the disease is there are no standard symptoms. In fact, people are often treated for symptoms rather than disease because it is so difficult to diagnose.
"(Scleroderma) is often misdiagnosed," Lovejoy said. "The symptoms are so dramatic. You could have kidney failure as a symptom (of scleroderma), but doctors are treating kidney disease instead. Once diagnosed, all doctors can do is try and make the patient comfortable. Depending on severity, you may have it all your life or it may take your life."
Catered by Lock 24 of Baldwinsville, the Wine Tasting and Fund Raiser is $25 per person and includes food, entertainment and a 50/50 drawing. Lovejoy's photography will also be on display to help promote her new business, Horse Cents Photography. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Scleroderma Foundation.