When Taylor Brown was just two years old, her mother TaMetress Reed began noticing certain symptoms, such as hardening and tightening patches of skin. As Brown grew up, the symptoms worsened: aching and painful joints, skin scarring, internal health problems, and fatigue. But no doctor could explain what was going on. As reported by Bay News 9, Taylor was officially diagnosed with scleroderma in 2014 at age 11. Alongside her mother, Taylor harnessed her diagnosis for good and created the Taylor’s Journey Foundation to raise awareness around scleroderma.
When Taylor was younger, attending school in Polk County, Florida, she was sometimes bullied for her skin-related symptoms. At the time, she herself didn’t really understand what was happening. Since her diagnosis, both Taylor and her mom conducted a ton of research to understand her symptoms and underlying condition.
Basically, scleroderma is a group of rare diseases resulting from abnormal and excess collagen accumulation in body tissues. Some doctors consider it to be an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly attacks its own connective tissues. Scleroderma can be localized, or affecting only a few places on the skin and muscles, or systemic, which means it is found in connective tissue in many parts of the body. While localized scleroderma is often more external, systemic scleroderma may affect internal organs and organ function.
When Taylor received her diagnosis, she was diagnosed with both localized and systemic scleroderma. However, she has learned to be patient with herself and listen to her body so that she can excel. Currently, she is participating in a basketball camp, and will later attend Polk State College in the fall.
In many cases, scleroderma symptoms include:
- Hardening and tightening patches of skin
- Shiny-looking skin
- Restricted movement or mobility
- Joint pain
- Raynaud’s disease (numbness, pain, or color changes in the fingers and toes)
- Acid reflux
- Poor nutrient absorption
- Difficulty swallowing
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of heart, lung, and kidney function
Learn more about scleroderma.
Taylor’s Journey Foundation
Additionally, Taylor created the Taylor’s Journey Foundation. According to the Foundation website, its mission is:
to promote awareness of Scleroderma in addition to empowering children, families and the community on the importance of maintaining physical and emotional health, self development and leadership through advocacy, education and training. Taylor’s Journey Foundation believes in identifying personal strengths and weaknesses to use as a foundation to build healthy, confident, and productive individuals…to help strengthen their community and eventually the world.
Taylor’s Journey Foundation also focuses on five attributes: Perseverance. Resilience. Endurance. Strength. Success. If Taylor can empower others with scleroderma to embrace these, she feels proud and fulfilled.
Outside of raising awareness, Taylor’s Journey Foundation also works to raise funds and fight for a cure. Prior events included “Shooting for a Cure,” a basketball clinic shootout sponsored by the Lakeland Magic, and a First Aid & CPR course.
Next up? Taylor’s Journey Foundation will hold Skate for a Cure on June 24 from 6-8 pm. Want to learn more? Click here.