If you have had the privilege to meet Whitney, you know that she's brave, beautiful and amazingly strong. She always puts the happiness of others before herself and now she needs us to do the same for her.
Whitney is my twin sister; she is 29-years old and has been fighting chronic Lyme Disease for the past two years. We think she was infected in 2011 from a tick bite in western Michigan and really started being impacted by the illness in 2014. She was healthy, strong, and training for a half marathon. Within a time span of a few short days, she could barely walk without gasping for air, had severe back pain, was crushingly tired, and was experiencing what we later learned was brain fog.
After a year of multiple doctors, tests, and misdiagnosis, she finally visited an acupuncturist who took the time to listen to her symptoms, how they progressed, and what her life looked like during the previous year. She found that Whitney had severe adrenal fatigue and recommended she find a doctor to test for the cause, specifically looking for infections, parasites, or bacteria. In July of 2015, she was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, Babesia, and Anaplasmosis.
Up until this point, my family and I had really no clue what Lyme disease was, how you got it, or how it was treated. The past two years we have learned more than we ever though we would know about ticks and tick-borne illnesses, while watching her navigate this crazy disease and fight for her health.
There is no known treatment for Lyme and patients and doctors go through a lot of trial and error to figure out what works. People who have the most success use a combination of traditional (antibiotics, supplements) and holistic medicine (acupuncture, Chinese medicine). Insurers do not cover Lyme disease treatment and patients pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for the care that they need.
As you can imagine this can get really expensive, especially because in addition to not knowing the best treatment, doctors are also unable to say how long treatment will take. Similar to many patients in treatment for Lyme, Whitney is now unable to work due to chronic fatigue and reactions to antibiotics.
We have been really fortunate that she has gotten the treatment and care she’s needed, but after over a year the costs have piled up - over $15,000 to be exact. She’ll be completing her next treatment protocol over the next 6 months and we want her to focus on healing without the added financial stress.
Please know that we will still consider this a huge success if we earn nothing but well wishes. Lyme disease can be very scary and lonely; positive words of encouragement and shows of support will make a huge impact! If you are able to support, please know that every little bit helps take a weight off her shoulders and lets her focus on healing and getting her life back.
What donations will pay for
Right now she’s doing the bare minimum of what her treatment requires due to cost and accumulating debt.
Here's a breakdown of some of the expenses donations will help cover:
- Antibiotics & Supplements: $500 per month
- Doctors Appointments: $160/half hour, once a month
- Holistic Treatments: $400 per month
- Lab Panels: $200 - $1300 per test depending on coverage
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for reading and supporting Whit. We know she's going to get through this and can't wait to share back with you the story of how she crushed this disease!
Shannon, Whitney & our whole family :)
More on Lyme
In Whitney's own words, "Lyme Disease
, a great resource for Lyme and other tick-borne illness, provides a bit more scientific information. They describe Lyme disease as a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by Ixodes ticks, also known as deer ticks, and on the West Coast, black-legged ticks. These tiny arachnids are typically found in wooded and grassy areas. Lyme disease has been found on every continent except Antarctica. It is found all across the United States, with a particularly high incidence in the East, Midwest, and West Coast.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. However, because diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.
Lyme disease affects people of all ages. In addition to contracting Lyme disease from a tick-bite, many people can contract a host of other co-infections.
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it may become late-stage or chronic. This may also occur when early treatment is inadequate. It may spread to any part of the body and affect any body system. Typically, it affects more than one body system.
Other resources we recommend include the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society
, the Bay Area Lyme Foundation
, and the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center
You can keep up with Whitney and her journey at her blog, Then She Healed
. Even when she's sick, she is still trying to help other Lyme patients gain back control of their lives through Positive Psychology!