Imagine fighting a chronic, debilitating illness every day for over 17 years. Every single day is a struggle against sickness and fatigue. You're unable to live your life like everyone around you. You can't do the things you love, the things that matter most to you. Even on a good day, life is nearly impossible.
Meg Smith doesn't have to imagine any of this. This is her life.
Meg always had big dreams and passionate ambitions. When she was a girl, she wanted to be a doctor so she could help people. God took that desire to help others and channeled it into ministry. For years, Meg served people from many walks of life, both here and overseas, sharing the love of Christ with those in need -- all while struggling with chronic Lyme disease.
For those who don't know much about this crippling disease, there's a simple way to describe what it does: it robs you of everything -- your energy, your health, and your ability to do what you were meant to do.
Despite Meg's best efforts, chronic Lyme disease has robbed her of the ability to continue her ministry.
To experience any kind of true and lasting healing, Meg must receive an aggressive medical treatment.
Would you prayerfully consider donating toward Meg's medical treatment, giving her a chance to regain her life and her ministry? This treatment requires Meg to raise $68,000 in just a few weeks so that Meg can begin IV treatment in April. Meg is trusting God to provide as He always has in her life.
Please share Meg's story with others, including your family, friends and coworkers.Encourage them to pray and consider donating to Meg's treatment. She needs a team of champions in her corner, people who can not only help her reach her goal but can also learn more about the struggles and realities of living with chronic Lyme disease.
Finally, pray that the Lord would provide for Meg and in the process, bring greater awareness to this terrible disease.
God has used Meg to accomplish a lot of great things in her ministry, impact lives in need of hope and help, and make a difference for others. Now, Meg needs you to make a difference in her life.
Meg's mother offers a closer look at her daughter's life:
I cherish the memories from Meg’s childhood. She was an energetic princess if ever there was one. Always outside playing make-believe with her friends or jumping on the trampoline sporting her bright blonde hair, cherub-pink cheeks and a beautiful smile.
Adventure was not uncommon at our house. We often went camping or hiking and it was difficult to keep she and her little brother on the trails. They were always on the hunt for some discovery or another. Most of her childhood was spent outdoors at the farm or other places around Illinois and Indiana.
Around the age of 13, we noticed a difference in Meg. The doctors suspected rheumatoid arthritis at first when swelling in her joints was discovered, but when all was ruled out, they thought it soon would pass. Her diagnosis was blamed on growth, and then on stress. She began missing school because the pain was so severe. With no answers, we began to homeschool Meg and tried to move forward with life.
About this time, we moved to a small town in Indiana called Rensselaer, which my husband and I still call home. Both of our children started school and, within the first few weeks, caught the flu. The flu ran its course with our son, and he returned to school by the next week. Meg, however, wasn’t improving. Her nausea and profound fatigue continued. We had to help her get to and from the bathroom. Her skin tone seemed to change to a grey, dull color and the energy was gone from her eyes. We became alarmed and began, again, to seek answers from every doctor in the area, including a specialized children’s hospital. Many times, doctors would determine a diagnosis and then back away, blaming stress. No one could explain any of her ailments.
For three years, our days consisted of carrying Meg up the stairs, assisting her in the smallest activities, and constantly comforting her in the pain that just wouldn’t stop. It wasn’t until she was 17 years old that a doctor, out of frustration and concession, diagnosed her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia. Although we were glad to have a reason for all of Meg’s pain, we found little help from the diagnosis. There were and still are very few treatment options for CFD/FM outside of pain management, and today these diseases are actual symptoms of a much larger disease. Meg fought to get back on her feet. She took the pain pills and supplements in a determination to go to college and she rested as much as she could. She was not well by any means, but she was mobile.
Meg started at Olivet University the fall of 2004 and was immediately accepted into their music program. However, it wasn’t long before the physical exertion took its toll, and soon she had to return home, defeated and back in bed.
Again, Meg worked to gain her independence. She changed her diet and lifestyle, and fought to gain strength. When her grandparents became ill, her compassionate heart and close relationship with them pushed her to move to the family farm and care for them both. Her father and I were apprehensive at this decision; fearing she would again use her ‘store’ of energy and be forced to return to bed. But God was good. Meg and her Aunt cared for both grandparents until they passed a year and a half later, staying by their side until they took their last breath.
After their passing, Meg got an apartment and at Crisis Pregnancy Center in Illinois. She volunteered at first but eventually worked her way up to the Client Services Director. Meg was very careful with her health and worked steadily until the Lord called her in to missions. At 28 years old, Meg moved to Nigeria. She spent her time there loving on women and children caught in sex trafficking and prostitution. Our hearts could not have been prouder at all that the Lord allowed her to accomplish, even with limited stamina.
Not long into her time in Nigeria, Meg came down with a severe strain of malaria. After three weeks of rest and treatment, her mission organization sent her back to the states to recover. She improved and eventually seemed as strong as when she left for Nigeria, except for some joint pain. After this recovery, Meg was asked to move to Charlotte and join the mission mobilization department at her organization’s US office.
Our first indication that something was wrong came from a telephone call. 'Mama, I’m so tired. I can’t seem to overcome it.' Again, the ‘flu’ symptoms began, as well as the intense pain. Once again, doctors began testing and searching for answers. Many theories were shared and protocols given, but nothing helped. She just kept getting worse.
One morning Meg called and said she couldn’t get out of bed. When I arrived later that night, that same grey color in Meg’s face had returned. My heart stopped and I internally cried, 'Oh God, not again.' We searched and searched for answers. 'How could this happen again?' We prayed and we cried to the Lord. A few days later, shortly after her 30th birthday, I yet again searched the internet looking for answers. I’m not sure how I happened on the image except by God’s goodness, but when I saw the photo it was as if someone had hit me in the stomach. It was a picture of a classic Lyme disease “bull’s eye rash”, but unlike any I had seen before. Suddenly my mind slipped back to an old house we lived in before Meg got sick. It was a rash on the inside of her arm that looked exactly like the picture!
I began looking up Lyme disease symptoms. My stomach turned knots as I realized she had every single one of the symptoms. It was as if someone had written a clinical review of Meg’s illness over the last 17 years. After I began to research Lyme disease, I realized there was huge controversy over chronic Lyme due to the very outdated testing that is currently required by the CDC. More than 30 strains of Lyme disease are currently recognized, but standard Lyme blood tests only run a handful of them. Therefore, research shows that chronic Lyme disease should be a mostly clinical diagnosis. Doctors are not always willing to treat chronic Lyme for fear of losing their licenses since the views of research and the CDC do not align. Thankfully, we found a Lyme literate medical doctor to take Meg’s case only two hours from her home in Charlotte, NC.
Meg began treatment one year ago. Lyme disease treatment causes many side effects, which doctors can only liken to chemotherapy. Symptoms might include nausea, extreme pain, weakness, and severe malaise. After a year of treatment, Meg is a little stronger and able to work some, but the pain and other issues have not improved - some have even worsened. Until very recently Meg has been unable to receive the more aggressive chronic Lyme disease treatment she needs. However, Meg now can enter this next round of treatment with a deep hope for remission by 2018!
After so many years and so much grief, it is good to finally understand why our daughter went from a vivacious, joyful girl with a ready smile, to a beautiful soul with an afflicted body.
My invitation to you:
- First and foremost, if you are struggling with a chronic illness but have not yet found a diagnosis, please read up on Lyme Disease. It is is incredibly hard to find and harder to diagnose, and it’s much more common than you realize! “Lyme disease isn’t rare. More than 300,000 Lyme disease cases are reported each year by the CDC in the U. S. alone. It is six times more common than HIV/AIDS and twice as common as breast cancer. When appropriate diagnostic codes are missing, care is often denied and unreported, leading to life-threatening and debilitating illnesses.” -www.lymedisease.org
- I beseech you to consider giving to Meg’s medical fund. Meg desperately needs this aggressive treatment, but because of its intensity and its length (over a year), the price is very high. Meg’s friends and family have committed to helping Meg raise $68,000 in just six weeks. Will you join us?
- Lastly, would you spread the word about Meg and thousands like her? No one should suffer for over 17 years waiting for a diagnosis. And if one must, one should never do it alone. I pray that not only our Meg receive treatment and healing, but the thousands of others who are still waiting.
And on behalf of Meg’s friends and family, thank you!