A White Rock woman is raising awareness of Lyme disease and the importance of protecting oneself from the debilitating illness.
Jane Frasca, 42, hopes that by sharing her story, others can prevent becoming ill from the infectious tick-borne disease, and those with the disease can know they’re not alone.
Once an active mother of two sons – now 18 and 19 – Frasca’s life has been consumed for more than a decade as she searches for treatment to get back on track.
She hopes that by coming forward, she can warn others of the dangerous ticks that can be found in parks and other green spaces.
“It’s kind of scary to put it out there. I don’t know if it’s just my pride or something, but I always just try and put my best public face on, and it’s hard,” she said. “But I know a few people (whose) dogs have been bit in the various dog parks in Surrey. So I don’t want everyone to walk around in fear, I just want them to be more aware.”
Initially, Frasca’s symptoms appeared in 2001, when she thought she was having a stroke. The right side of her body went numb and a tingling sensation followed.
Undiagnosed for the next several years – Frasca had tested negative for Lyme – she was plagued with stabbing pains, eyesight issues, flu-like symptoms, blood pressure and heart issues.
Then, in December 2007, the second major attack hit the human resources manager while in a business meeting.
“I crashed at work,” she said, noting the attack rendered her unable to think, concentrate or read.
Soon after, Frasca was clinically diagnosed in Vancouver with Lyme disease.
While she was being treated for Lyme, Frasca was also going to a Multiple Sclerosis neurologist who, with an MRI scan, found lesions on her brain.
“My MS doctor said we need to wait for more lesions and I said ‘well, we’re not waiting,’” she recalled. “I was a totally professional career person, I wanted to get back to work the next week.”
She has yet to return to her career.
Despite treatment, the MRI scans came back showing more and more lesions on her brain.
Looking towards other avenues, Frasca and her husband turned to doctors in the United States – specifically the East Coast, where Lyme is more prevalent.
After failed attempts there, Frasca went to Germany to undergo a procedure, similar to angioplasty but instead of focusing on arteries, it would focus on blocked veins to the brain.
“And it didn’t work,” she said. “It works for some, and not for others.
“It’s a very emotional, psychological, financially draining experience.”
In 2012, Frasca experienced some success with intravenous antibiotics, but not the level she wanted. After inquiring with her Lyme doctor, she was tested for mould which came back positive, forcing her into a three-month treatment protocol that infected her liver.
Today, she is off her antibiotics as a result of contracting C. difficile.
“Which is like your worst nightmare when you’re on antibiotics,” she said. “It’s like you take one step forward and two steps back.”
The one constant positive, she noted, has been the support she has received from her local support group.
“People seem to be banding together and coming together to bring awareness in the community,” she said. “Because no one else can really get it, until you get it.”
A Lyme-awareness forum will be held April 24, 7-9 p.m. at Semiahmoo House Society, 15306 24 Ave. Speakers include Dr. Ernie Murakami and Gwen Barlee.