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Mother on P.E.I. brings awareness for Lyme disease with run/walk event

Fewer than two years ago, Stefanie Clark, centre, didn’t have enough strength to play with her children. Since then she has recovered from Lyme disease. Now, she’s lacing up her sneakers with her son, Ethan, right, and family friend Will Yeo to participate in a Lyme Disease Awareness 5K Run/Walk on Saturday at 9 a.m. It begins on the Confederation Trail between UPEI and the Farmers’ Market. Everyone is welcome.
Fewer than two years ago, Stefanie Clark, centre, didn’t have enough strength to play with her children. Since then she has recovered from Lyme disease. Now, she’s lacing up her sneakers with her son, Ethan, right, and family friend Will Yeo to participate in a Lyme Disease Awareness 5K Run/Walk on Saturday at 9 a.m. It begins on the Confederation Trail between UPEI and the Farmers’ Market. Everyone is welcome.

Fewer than two years ago, a Charlottetown mother diagnosed with Lyme disease dreamed one day she would be able to play with her children again.

Stefanie Clark, 36, has since completely recovered after more than a year of treatment.

Now, the mother of two young children hopes to bring some awareness to the debilitating disease by hosting a Lyme Disease Awareness 5K Run/Walk on Saturday in Charlottetown.

It will begin on the Confederation Trail, between UPEI and the Farmers’ Market at 9 a.m.

“I really am feeling better. I’m doing good, it’s crazy,’’ Clark says. “(My kids) are happy to have their momma back. It was a long journey.’’

When The Guardian spoke with the native of Summerside in December of 2015 she described a life of waking up every morning completely exhausted, unable to accomplish simple tasks such as folding laundry.

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Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include:

  • Rash, sometimes shaped like a bull's eye
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

 Source: Canada.ca

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With the help of her husband, Adam, she got out of bed and went to work, teaching Grade 6 at Spring Park Elementary School in Charlottetown.

Island sports fans will recall Clark was a member of the Suzanne Gaudet (now Birt) curling team that captured the world junior curling title about 17 years ago.

Clark was diagnosed with Lyme disease seven years ago after she and Adam went on vacation to New Hampshire to celebrate the news that Stefanie was pregnant.

Along their travels, they pulled in for an afternoon swim at a lake in Maine. During her swim, Clark noticed a bug on her arm and would later learn that it was a black-legged deer tick that was infected with Lyme.

Pain and fatigue quickly became a daily burden. She describes it as like having the flu every day.

A number of options were explored. After struggling with different methods of treatment for months, a treatment plan was developed for her in Halifax but at a cost of $50,000 for 12 weeks.

Her friends immediately responded with a silent auction on Facebook. Treatment began in April 2016. Improvement was gradual. It would be October before she started feeling like her old self.

Now, Clark wants to educate people about the disease. She plans on handing out information from the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme).

“I want people to look at the wallet cards; to know that that’s a tick and that’s how tiny they can be and how much it can wreak havoc on your life; to simply be aware when they’re outside or anywhere. That’s all I want.’’

If Saturday goes well and enough people turn out, Clark says she will give some thought to starting up a P.E.I. Lyme disease chapter.

dave.stewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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