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Scleroderma gets a voice

by Jaymi Gooden - Campus Talk Editor

Brockport professor debuts her documentary on lesser known disease

Tue, Dec 6th 2016 09:00 pm

 "Scleroderma: The Truth", a documentary by The College at Brockport's Associate Professor and Associate Chair for the Department of Communication Virginia Orzel, educates and encourages individuals in the medical field to continue research on scleroderma, a disease Orzel has lost a family member to in the past.

Orzel will be screening her 16-minute long film in the McCue Auditorium of the Liberal Arts Building on Dec. 8 at The College at Brockport.

"This is not medical," Orzel said. "This is just my perception of the disease."

Through an interview with Dr. Lee S. Shapiro, a leading expert of scleroderma at the Steffens Scleroderma Center in Albany, NY, Orzel was able to gain further insight into the chronic illness and its damaging effects.

"It mummifies you," Orzel said. "It's an indescribable disease but by seeing this film you'll really get an understanding of what these people go through."

According to Orzel, scleroderma is a connective tissue disease that stiffens the skin and vital organs, wearing down at its elasticity needed for the organs to function properly. There currently is no cure, but only medication that can comfort those suffering.

Orzel also interviewed Rosa Johnson, a woman currently battling scleroderma. Johnson will make an appearance at the screening of "Scleroderma: The Truth" alongside the Scleroderma Tri State chapter to participate in a question and answer session where students, faculty and members of the community are more than welcome to come, ask questions and share their stories.

"The goal of this is to try to educate people and make them aware," Orzel said. "Hopefully there will be more nurses and doctors willing to study and explore this disease."

"Scleroderma: The Truth" has already received praise since its completion; the Steffens Scleroderma Center and Tri State chapter have both given the film recognition and service awards and Orzel has since heard from the Florida chapter about showcasing the film early in 2017.

"20 years ago when I was in college, if you told me that this is what I was going to be doing I would have said you were crazy," Orzel said. "But I want to make it aware that people aren't paying attention to certain issues."

 

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