Lorraine Hart - Guest Columnist


Lorraine Hart

On Lyme Disease

Meet a Survivor

This fall, my daughter Anna enters her 20th year fighting neuroborreliosis (Lyme disease) and co-infections. We’ve written articles, done print and radio interviews, and every May we spend the month in activism, holding signs and waving to cars at the Purdy-302 intersection, all in the name of educating folks about Lyme in the Pacific Northwest.

But every September for the last 14 years we have also held a Lyme Picnic for patients, their caregivers and families. It’s a chance for Lyme patients to socialize and feel a sense of near normalcy for an afternoon. In a world where Lyme disease is so politicized, our picnic offers the gentle support of community.

This Sept. 9 marks our 15th Western Washington Lyme Picnic. We wanted to make it a standout event, so we’re bringing in a very special guest speaker to mark the anniversary. He is a former park ranger in the Sierra Nevada, the author of the popular “Nature Noir,” and his latest book, “Engineering Eden,” is quickly winning acclaim as well. But in the Lyme community, Jordan Fisher Smith is the North Star patient—one who got well.

“Nature Noir” came out in 2005 and there was a chapter in it about his experience with Lyme disease. The book took off and he harnessed that notoriety to fight back against the dreadful situation he’d been through. He and newfound friends organized a fundraiser that collected $425,000 for the Columbia University Lyme center, which was just in the planning stages at the time. This brought him to the attention of a film company called Open Eye Pictures and he spent three years working with them on the multiple award-winning documentary, “Under Our Skin.”

I asked Jordan why he stayed committed to Lyme patients after regaining his health.

“To a great extent they, and the issue of tick-borne disease, chose me,” he said. “Although I have been over my Lyme and babesia for 10 years now, I consider that role one in which I have the possibility of serving the public, as I served the public as a park ranger—a role that I was given so that I could help people and one I have no right to shrug off. What I went through, no one, including your daughter, should have to go through in a developed country where medicine to prevent and treat it is, or ought to be, available.”

Jordan will join us Saturday, Sept. 9 from 2 p.m. to dusk at the Gig Harbor Viewpoint in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. Please join us to learn more about Lyme disease and how we can stop it.

Lorraine Hart lives in Vaughn. For more information, contact her at: borreliaetc@gmail.com