Local mom raising Lyme disease awareness

Carrie Perry of ABC27’s Good Day PA is ticked off at ticks. Her daughter, 18-year-old Samantha, has been suffering from Lyme disease for two and half years now.

She was in so much pain she had to leave Penn State after her first semester.

“After finals week, I studied so hard that I exhausted myself,” Sam Perry said. “I came home and I slept so much during Christmas break.”

The symptoms of a tick bite are hard to see and that makes it hard to understand what people with the disease are dealing with. Patients have a lot of joint pain and deal with exhaustion.

“I feel really sick. I feel like I want to crawl into bed, but I look pretty healthy to everyone,” Sam Perry said.

To get the message out, Carrie Perry is working on a national campaign called Project Lyme. The goal is to raise awareness about prevention, education and early detection.

The number of cases is exploding. Pennsylvania has the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the country.

“It not only allows me to share my daughter’s story but my story. I’m going through this, too. I’m not sick with it, but I’m a parent who wants to get her child well,” Carrie Perry said.

Project Lyme was founded a year ago by Heather Hearst. She had Lyme disease when she was 14 years old and was sad to hear about stories like Sam’s.

“It really pulled at my heartstrings. It’s personal to me. I also thought this is crazy. I had this 30 years ago and this should be getting better, not worse,” Hearst said.

It may be tough to diagnose and tough to treat, but Lyme disease is preventable by taking the right precautions.

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. If you would like more information about Lyme disease and Project Lyme, go to http://www.projectlyme.org.

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