For nearly three years Caledonia resident Shelby MacNeil has been suffering the debilitating effects of late stage chronic Lyme Disease.
After suddenly falling ill with a myriad of symptoms MacNeil and her doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. Her symptoms were complex and included issues such as: chronic fatigue, ringing in the ears, vision loss, memory loss, balance issues, migraines, heart palpitations, joint pain and more.
MacNeil, who prior to her illness was always busy, says she went from living an active life of working three jobs as a hairdresser, to being completely bedridden and unable to walk. She went from doctor to doctor, consistently coming out with no conslusive answers as to what was happening to her body. Finally, in January of 2014 MacNeil was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease and other complicating co-infections.
After exhausting all avenues in Canada to find treatment for her illness, MacNeil came up empty handed. MacNeil told the Two Row Times, “I’ve tried every kind of treatment and nothing seems to be working. I’ve tried both anti-biotics and naturopathic medicine.”
She says in the last month her illness has taken a turn for the worse, “Everyday I wake up scared. This disease takes everything that is in you. My life is bedridden because I haven’t been walking for a year.”
Still MacNeil is staying positive and taking pleasure in the little things like going outside for a walk with her boyfriend. “You appreciate all the little things about your health,” she said. “You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
MacNeil has met with others suffering from Lyme Disease who found success at the Sponaugle Wellness Institute. Unfortunately, treatments for Lyme Disease are not covered by OHIP so MacNeil has to pay for all her treatments out of pocket.
Now the communities of Six Nations and Caledonia are coming together in a spirit of unity to raise money for her treatment and give Shelby the gift of hope this year. A number of local businesses have all set their sights on raising the $80,000 necessary for Lyme specific treatments through the Florida clinic as a way to pay it forward and give MacNeil a second chance.
“I can’t believe how amazing the community has been,” said MacNeil.
In spite of her own illness, MacNeil says she is determined to walk back into wellness and raise awareness about Lyme Disease so others in the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk area will not have to go through what she has. “In this area, ticks are everywhere,” she says. “At the least I hope that my story getting out will help people to learn about how serious this disease is and how or where they can begin to get help. When I get better it’s going to be all about giving back.”
An online fundraising campaign called “Lyme Can Tick Off” has been launched on www.youcaring.com where MacNeil shares her story. She wrote, “My family and I have learned that doctors in Canada are not educated enough about this disease. I have tried natural treatments and western medicine but my body has come to a plateau and is declining rapidly. My family and I have run out of options at this time. After doing a lot of research, we came across a place called the Sponaugle Wellness Institute which specializes in Lyme disease. Dr. Sponaugle continuously improves his treatment protocols for Lyme disease and for healing the brain and nervous system. His success rate is phenomenal and people like me are getting the specialized treatment they need and are getting their lives back.”
A number of local businesses are contributing to this cause and you can also help to give back this Christmas to help Shelby get out of her wheelchair and get her life back.
On Six Nations the Grand River Spa is donating 50% of the proceeds for every manicure and pedicure until January 31st. Pro-fit Health Club is donating 50% of the proceeds from the Juicebar, Pro-Shop and all One Day passes sold. The Caledonia Corvairs are also in; selling calendars and bracelets to raise money. Bracelets will be available at select locations including the Whey Smooth Juice Bar on Argyle St. N. in Caledonia.
A number of Caledonia businesses are also helping raise funds; Body Waves Fitness, Arbonne representatives, a number of local churches and the Argyle St. Grill are all pitching in to get MacNeil to the $80,000 mark.
Donations can also be made online at the website www.youcaring.com under the campaign name Lyme Can Tick Off. You can also look for the yellow bracelets at select locations around the community to contribute a $5.00 donation.