WHITE MILLS-On Nov. 2 a fundraiser will be taking place to help support a local woman who has lyme disease.
Jen Rickert Brownell, 34, is going to a clinic in Florida to get treatment for lyme disease, which is so severe it's killing her.
It's been so devastating and costly that she and her family are struggling trying to find funds to keep up with treatments that aren't showing much success.
The benefit, which was put together by family and friends, will take place at the White Mills Fire Department from 6-10 p.m. The cost is $10 per person. This is also a BYOB event.
There will be great food, music, 50/50s and a silent auction. You can get tickets by calling Gary and Patty Brown (570) 253-2506 or Bob and Debbie Rickert at (570) 253-6158.
In November of 2009, Jen was told she had fibromyalgia, but it was later found that she was wrongly diagnosed and "went without treatment for three years."
"In 2012 we went to the Healing Zone and saw Lynn Wright," said Jen's mom Debbie.
Wright works in Naturopathic Health at the Healing Zone, which is located in Hawley. She also has a masters degree in nursing and metaphysics.
She said that in December of 2011 you could "definitely notice" that something wasn't quite right. In January of 2012 they went to the Healing Zone.
"Lynn could see the spirochetes, plus Jen was having the symptoms of lyme," Debbie stated.
The symptoms included severe headaches, short term memory loss, confusion and dizziness.
"Her immune system was bad and Lynn was trying to treat it so she could get better," Debbie said. "She used homopathic medicines to help Jen's immune system, which are fairly successful in doing so."
She added that Jen's immune system did get better, but when Wright tried using the medicines to treat the lyme, Jen "wasn't responding."
"We were told to see a lyme literate doctor and that's when Jen started seeing Dr. Dan Cameron in Mount. Kisco, New York," said Debbie.
She said that Jen was treated with oral antibiotics from May to Oct. 1, 2012.
"He also started the picc line treatment through an IV and she continued taking oral antibiotics," Debbie stated. "The oral medications were killing her stomach. The picc line bypassed the gut and penetrates the blood brain barrier, since her symptoms aren't neurological."
Debbie added that Jen did respond to the IV for awhile and that she "seemed to be a little better." She also said Jen was having heart palpitations before having the picc line and that it "at least helped that."
Unfortunately, Jen stopped responding to treatments and Debbie said she is "regressing some."
Page 2 of 3 - "Around June or July this year she reached a plateau," Debbie said. "Now she seems to be going backward. We were told it takes time, but who knows if that could be months or years. I don't want her to waste years with this. She's already lost enough of her life from it."
Dr. Cameron did everything he could and it didn't work out for Jen.
"Everyone is different," Debbie said. "Every case is different."
Since beginning oral medication, before the picc line was put in, Debbie said that Jen "lost 20 pounds."
"She hasn't been able to work since the picc line was put in," she said.
Paying for treatment has been a huge burden on Jen's family, especially because of insurance.
"The treatment was very expensive," Debbie said. "When Jen went on the picc line in October 2012 we were receiving the IV rocephin from an infusion pharmacy in Philadelphia."
She added that Jen's insurance cut her off after 28 days of treatment.
"The meds were over $100 per day," Debbie said. "Insurance companies don't want anything to do with lyme disease because it is very expensive to treat lyme."
She added that they appealed the insurance company's decision twice, but "lost both times."
Debbie said it's been real tough on their family and that Jen's husband Mike has been "hanging by her side."
"It's very frustrating and heartbreaking to watch her go through this knowing we can't do anything," she said. "Lyme disease is such an epidemic. You do what you have to do."
They were told about the treatment facility in Florida from Phil Monaghan, who was successfully treated from lyme disease there.
Debbie said the cost for treatment at the facility is "astronomical" and insurance is "not accepted" there.
Along with lyme treatments, the facility has "successfully helped" with different phases of illnesses.
Monaghan, along with Teresa Arnone, who was also successfully treated at the facility from lyme disease, will be at the benefit. Anyone wishing to speak to them will have that opportunity. Monaghan is also speaking during the benefit.
"It's also a way to reach out to others who may be in a similar situation and don't know where to turn next," Debbie said.
In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it stated that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is about "10 times" higher than was previously reported.
The CDC estimates that "300,000 Americans" are diagnosed with Lyme disease "each year." BluePearl Veterinary Partners added that "pets are susceptible" to the disease as well.
Page 3 of 3 - Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that is carried and transmitted by ticks. It can cause fatigue, fever, joint pain, kidney damage, lethargy, loss of appetite, neurological disorders and trouble walking. It is treatable, but the sooner it is caught, the better.
Data from the CDC states that in the United States, Lyme disease is most commonly found in the East Coast and Midwest. The CDC also reported that 96 percent of cases reported came from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
"With the tick infestation as bad as it is, doctors should be looking more seriously at a lyme diagnosis instead of fibromyalgia," Debbie said. "Every lyme patient we have spoken with has had a fibro diagnosis. Lyme disease mocks so many other diseases and that is why it's so hard to diagnose and treat."
As of Wednesday over 250 tickets have already been sold for the benefit. Tickets are also available at the door.
Donations may be made to Jen Rickert Brownell c/o The Dime Bank 820 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431.