WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When you see Mary Ann Reichenberger, you might not know that she is battling a rare disease.

Mary Ann Reichenberger (KSN Photo)

“You can look at me and think she doesn’t look that sick,” Reichenberger said. “In 1992, I went to Mayo Clinic, and they diagnosed me with lupus and scleroderma. Scleroderma is what my biggest health problem is, it has attacked my internal organs.”

Scleroderma has no cure.

“So basically, my stomach doesn’t function well to where it won’t digest. My esophagus doesn’t work, and problems with my colon,” she explained.

Over the years, Reichenberger has spent a lot of time in hospitals. Her latest visit to Kansas Medical Center in Andover lasted nearly two months.

“I think every single one of them knew me and was always checking on me,” she said.

She went through four surgeries in that time frame.

“I can’t say enough about this hospital,” Reicherberger said. “I have all the pictures of each and every nurse. They were all just fantastic.”

Just under 70 pounds, the hospital staff called her the tiniest woman in the hospital.

Reichenberger is finally back home. Although, she’s building up her strength to head back to the hospital for another surgery. Even then, she will need IV nutrients at home 24/7.

She was once told that she would only have 10 years to live. She surpassed that goal.

So what’s her motivation to stay upbeat through it all?

“I have four beautiful grandkids. One is 20, and one is 24. I want to live to see them get married. I mean, that’s my dream,” she said.

Along with more time with her husband and other loved ones.

Despite life’s hurdles, Reichenberger keeps pushing.

“I don’t want to go anywhere yet. So, just being positive and being happy. I have no reason to be sad,” she said.

Reichenberger is hopeful that she’ll be able to build her strength enough to visit her daughter, now living in California. She’s never been strong enough to make the trip.

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