L-r: Richard Underwood, Anne Claros & Nasser Barakat
The black legged tick that can cause lyme disease
Richard with all the medication he needs to take every day to combat his chronic Lyme disease
A positive opportunity
presented by a devastating illness
by Anne Caprice B. Claros & Nasser Barakat
One bite, one man, a whole life changed. Twenty-six-year-old Richard Underwood shares his story; one that resonates in the hearts of many Canadians. His battle with Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) began with a tick bite eight years ago during his service in the Canadian Forces.
Lyme Disease is transmitted through black-legged ticks infected with the disease-causing bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. These are also known as deer ticks and can be found in tall grassy areas, similar to those in which the forces train.
Richard has gone from an extremely active individual, playing three sports in high school to one who is daily plagued by escalating symptoms. Early in his training in the military, he experienced various symptoms of unknown origin. Unfortunately, this remained a mystery until May of 2015 when he finally came across a doctor who diagnosed him with CLD. He continues to suffer from prolonged fatigue, excessive joint pain, restless leg syndrome, complications with his thyroid, and a first-degree AV block in his heart.
Most debilitating, however, are his cognitive symptoms; poor short-term memory, slowed cognition, and a reduced ability to organize thoughts and belongings. However seriously devitalizing these symptoms can be, they can be successfully reversed through proper CLD treatment.
Although the Canadian Healthcare System provides treatment for Lyme Disease, its treatment plan is limited to short term antibiotic intake, which is more targeted towards cases in which the bacteria is detected early. To note, the 28-day acute treatment was the first time Richard experienced an improvement in his symptoms, albeit temporary.
Since he cannot receive proper treatment in Canada due to the chronic nature of his disease, he was forced to seek medical attention in the United States and is required to cover his medical expenses out-of-pocket. To receive the necessary CLD treatment, he can expect to pay upwards of $110,000.
Impressive progress is evident in the steps taken to aid Richard in achieving his goal of not only raising the funds needed but also sharing his story in the hopes of preventing others from experiencing the same obstacles that hindered him from acquiring access to proper care.
With the support of friends, his story was featured on CTV News Winnipeg on Sunday, August 23, 2015; with his fundraising page successfully launched as well.
Your support, in the form of donations and prayers, is essential towards the success of the campaign. The journey does not end after Richard’s successful treatment, as there are many other voices to be heard. Join us as we, through his story, shed a light and raise further awareness for CLD.
For more information, please contact Anne Claros at 204-803-7590 or Nasser Barakat at 204-930-9248 and please visit Richard’s official fundraising page at youcaring.com/richardlyme. E-mail Officialrichardlyme@gmail.com.