Local health campaigner Sophie Ward has revealed she is facing a serious health challenge – but is determined to carry on campaigning.
The Lyme disease sufferer from Garstang had an action packed campaigning week before setting off on a hopefully recuperative holiday with her mum.
First she went back to her old school Kirkham Grammar School, where pupils had been fundraising to support research into Lyme disease and to help those affected.
She said: “They hosted a fabulous fundraiser - a full day of fun, sponsored sporting events, with teachers vs sixth formers football, teachers vs students netball, obstacle courses, a none uniform day and baked goods sales.
“I was blown away by the level of support and how much effort the whole school had gone to. They have invited me back in the new term to accept the cheque with how much they have managed to raise – they are still collecting in the sponsorship money. There was also a competition going for who can raise the most money. It’s just incredible but just goes to show how aware people are becoming.”
She also attended a conference in London for members of Lyme Disease UK.
But she revealed the toll the disease, which she contracted from a tick bite on a trip to China, is currently taking on her.
She said: “My health is currently critical and I have viruses attacking my vagus nerve – which links to your gut, brain and heart. So I have to undergo urgent treatment at Breakspear Medical centre mid-July with a week’s worth of intense IV infusions to try and stabilise my body.”
Sophie, 25, had cherished hopes of becoming an Olympic swimmer before her ambitions were destroyed by her illness.
Sophie, whose dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer were dashed by the disease, said: “It’s scary, because I’ve been so busy raising awareness. But my gut has been really bad, causing further weight loss, I’ve been blacking out and I’ve rapidly declined. We can never take life for granted and that is why I am so passionate about preventing people from suffering the hell that us ‘Lymie’s’ live with.”
She contracted the disease after visiting a panda sanctuary on a trip to the Beijing Olympics. She is urging people to cut the risk of getting Lyme disease by tucking trousers into socks when out walking in the countrysid, wearing insect repellant sprays and using special tweezers to remove ticks, if suffering the misfortune of a bite.
One of the presenters at the London conference Sophie attended was expert Dr Jemsek from Washington DC.
She said of his presentation: “It was hard hitting, heart breaking in places but so informative. Dr Jemsek told us how much of a pandemic Lyme is across the globe and after treating HIV and AIDS in the 80s he really does feel Lyme is mirroring the horrors of AIDS, feeling we don’t have long to get this disease under control so we can protect and save lives.”
She said research and awareness raising across the globe demonstrates “the threat Lyme is becoming”.
Myself and Natasha Metcalf the co-founder of Lyme Disease UK.
Pictures from Kirkham sports day.
Dr Jemsek conference;