STRONG WILL: Christine Butler has a new focus on raising money for a scleroderma specialist clinic.
STRONG WILL: Christine Butler has a new focus on raising money for a scleroderma specialist clinic. Michael Doyle

Mine worker's five-year struggle for diagnosis

CHRISTINE Butler went to the doctors for five years with symptoms.

For five years the doctors could not give her an answer for why she was tired and struggling to do her job in the mines.

When she moved to Kaimkillenbun two years ago and got another opinion, she was finally diagnosed with scleroderma, an autoimmune condition in which the body produces too much collagen, causing skin and connective tissue to thicken.

An uncommon disease that affects one in 10,000 Australians, it has taken Ms Butler out of work but given her a new focus.

Last Friday, she walked 10km to raise money for scleroderma research.

This is a mighty effort considering she was unable to complete more than a 20-minute walk this year.

"For me, going to the letter box is a struggle,” Ms Butler said.

"I decided on 10km and even if I had to do it on a ride-on lawn mower, I was going to do it.

"I rested up a week beforehand and I need this week to recover.”

She said completing the walk was a proud moment but she needed the support of her partner to keep going.

Scleroderma has taken a huge toll on Ms Butler.

"The skin swells to the point where it can't swell any more, so it limits the use of my strength in my hands and joints,” she said.

"I could not stand up for more than 20 minutes, I couldn't focus, the swelling in my face would swell my eyes shut.”

Ms Butler raised $500 for Scleroderma Australia and is now focused on new ways to raise money for the foundation which helps sufferers.

She has joined a push from the group Scleroderma Queensland to lobby the government to create a purpose-built clinic for sufferers.

"There are no grants or anything like that,” she said

"We are trying to get a scleroderma centre set up where you can go to the (specialists) all in one go.”

She said the government had so far knocked back the proposal for a clinic, but this had not deterred the group from continuing to raise funds.

She said her next fundraiser would be closer to Christmas, hoping to get support from businesses.


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