CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – A Cumberland County high school athlete had to slow down after she began experiencing pain and aches six months ago.
She went to doctor after doctor, but they could not figure out what was wrong; finally, this week, she has an answer.
It took sending samples to a lab in California to figure out the problem. And now that they know, mother and daughter urge other families not to give up trying.
Sam Perry is an active 16-year-old: she runs track, she plays soccer, she snowboards. Then last December, that started to change.
“I have never really been a napper,” she said. “I’ve had problems falling asleep. But I would have to come home from school and just crash for like two hours.”
Her joints ached, she lost her appetite, she started getting headaches. Doctor after doctor did test after test.
They told her she was just trying to do too much.
“I knew my body and I knew I wasn’t pushing it too hard.”
The problems didn’t go away. Sam saw her goals changing.
“That was really hard,” she said, “‘cause I went through phases where I was like, ‘I can still do this. I’m going to train as hard as I can.’ And then I’d be like, ‘I can’t do it.’”
“She just wasn’t herself,” her mom, Carrie Perry, said.
You might recognize Carrie from abc27’s “Good Day PA.” She refused to give up.
“I was so sad. I felt defeated,” Carrie said. “I felt like people looked at us like we were crazy.”
A Lyme Disease test came back negative in April.
That test was wrong.
Sam found out this week she has the life-changing condition, spread by tick bites.
Pennsylvania has the most reported cases of Lyme Disease of any state. The state health department recorded 7,400 cases last year.
That’s up a full 25 percent from the year before.
“My message to parents is you know your kids. And they know their bodies,” Carrie said. “You got to listen to them.”
“Even when I wanted to give up, my family around me was still pursuing a diagnosis and an answer to everything,” said Sam. “And you really just can’t give up.”
Now that she has her answer and has started treatment, Sam can get back to life. The aspiring doctor is focused on her senior year at Cumberland Valley High School, and getting back on the field.
“It’s all mental now that I know that I’m not going to be hurting myself by training a little bit,” she said.
Sam thinks she got the disease in November on a hike with friends from her soccer team.
She didn’t exhibit a couple of the tell-tale symptoms, like the bullseye-shaped rash, which let doctors believe it was anything but Lyme Disease.