Lyme Research Alliance Person of the Month.
Meet Investigative Reporter Mary Beth Pfeiffer
Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases, “No Small Thing,” the most comprehensive treatment of the subject ever undertaken by a newspaper, Mary Beth says she hadn’t realized that Lyme disease was “such a controversial can of worms.”
Shortly after Poughkeepsie Journal (NY) investigative reporter Mary Beth Pfeiffer returned from vacation this month, she spent more than three hours downloading emails from Lyme sufferers who had written in support of her nomination by her newspaper for a Pulitzer Prize.
“It was so gratifying for me to realize how many people were helped by my work,” Pfeiffer said after reading the countless emails of support from around the nation.
Meet Katy Reid
Dark Days Fuel Her Desire to Help Young Lyme Disease Sufferers
There’s no upside to having Lyme disease. It can ruin lives, friendships, and families. However Katy Reid, 27, who fought through multiple misdiagnoses and stigma as a high school student with Lyme disease, decided to turn her personal struggles into something positive for others.
Since 2010, Reid has been running a support group in Ridgefield, CT, for chronically ill Lyme disease sufferers aged 16-30, drawing young adults from as far away as New Jersey and upstate New York.
“Parents contact me often, struggling to understand an illness that has changed every aspect of the child they knew,” says Reid, who became ill 11 years ago and, like most Lyme sufferers, visited numerous doctors before finally being diagnosed and treated.
Meet Ray Kehrhahn
“I went from being semi-comatose to being reborn,” says Woodbury, CT runner diagnosed after 22 years.
Ray Kehrhahn recently took part in the Litchfield Hills Triathlon--a 1.1 mile swim, a 40k (24.8 mile) bike ride and a 10k (6.2 mile) run. While that would be remarkable accomplishment for most of us, it was extra-special for Kehrhahn, 56, because only eight months before he lived in a near catatonic state, suffering from debilitating anxiety, periodic blindness, an inability to sleep—in short, he was barely able to do much more than move from couch to bed. Kehrhahn had Lyme disease, and it took 22 years for him to be properly diagnosed.
After years of being told his problems were primarily psychologically-based, the Woodbury, CT, resident was diagnosed last year by a Lyme-literate doctor in Bridgeport. The diagnosis was seconded by medical professionals at the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University, an institution which Lyme Research Alliance (formerly Time for Lyme) helped endow.
Meet Christie Rampone
Many stories heralding the accomplishments of Team USA Olympians focused on the 13 athletes who are mothers. “Olympic moms demonstrate how women can have it all,’ proclaimed The Washington Post, while NPR focused on “Superwomen: Portraits of Olympians...and Moms.”
But only one among these elite athletes faced the additional challenge of competing while suffering from Lyme disease: Christie Rampone.
The 37-year old captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s soccer team and mom to daughters Rylie, 6, and Reece, 2, was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2010. As one of the fastest players in the world, with three Olympic gold medals, Rampone says she’s been determined not to let Lyme stop her despite being affected by some of the disease’s harrowing side effects. “Mind over matter has always been easy for me,” she says.
Meet Janet Vaccaro
“I was never one to rock the boat, but I had to take a stand in the fight against Lyme,” says Stamford mother of three.
When Janet Vaccaro and her family moved into their Stamford home in 1994, they had no idea what lay ahead of them. Janet, who held a part-time job at a nursery school in New Canaan, expected she’d simply enjoy a quiet life with her husband and three young sons. Yet fate has a way of changing even the best laid plans.
Janet, then 40, soon started experiencing a rash on her torso, fevers, then swollen ankles and a troublesome shoulder. Months passed without doctors being able to determine what was wrong. “It got to the point that I wondered if I was causing my own problems,” she said. But her symptoms grew worse. Finally Janet reached the point where she had to give up her job because she was suffering from severe memory and joint problems.
Meet Jason Lipsett
Three and a half years ago, at the start of his freshman year, Jason Lipsett of Needham, Massachusetts was like any other new college student – busy, bright-eyed, and looking forward to all the new experiences that lay ahead. But around that same time, he started suffering from strange symptoms. Making sense of these symptoms would lead him down a long, painful and confusing road that would ultimately end with a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
Jason didn’t recall being bitten by a tick, but his surroundings and activities during the summer prior to his freshman year certainly provided him with enough opportunities. His hometown of Needham and his family’s vacation home on Cape Cod are both located in prime Lyme-endemic areas. Also in the summer of 2009 he had gone hiking in New Hampshire, spent a lot of time playing tennis and running outdoors, and had a dog that had recently been treated for Lyme disease.