Midstate teen battling Lyme disease shares her story - abc27 WHTM

Midstate teen battling Lyme disease shares her story

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, Pennsylvania has the most cases of Lyme disease than any other state.

For many of us summer time in the Midstate means spending time outside.  That also means keeping an eye out for ticks and the symptoms of Lyme disease.

A Cumberland County teen is battling the disease and some serious complications.  She is sending out a warning to other Midstaters.

Last summer, we introduced you to Josie Gaffney, a Mechanicsburg teen who is completely dependent on her parents because of Lyme disease and its complications.

"It was really hard cause it almost happened overnight.  I just woke up the one day and I couldn't walk anymore," said Josie Gaffney.

For several years, Josie Gaffney has battled the swollen joints and severe pain that come with arthritis, a result of the Lyme disease compl


sed to be in excruciating pain to the point where you could barely touch me and I would scream my head off," Josie Gaffney said.

It has kept Josie Gaffney from doing all the activities she loves, like cheerleading and gymnastics.  But over the last year, a turn for the better.

Josie Gaffney's pain and swelling are decreasing.  Although she is getting better, she does not want others to go through the same struggle, so she and her mom, Lisa Gaffney, are spreading awareness.

They want people to know that not everyone who contracts Lyme disease develops a bullseye rash.

"Josie got her rash in 3 weeks.  It was longer than 2 weeks when we saw her rash.  We were very fortunate to find hers.  Hers came and went within a matter of hours," Lisa Gaffney said.

If you have other lingering side effects like headache, fever, and fatigue, be vigilant about treatment.

"Took her to the doctors, had a month of antibiotics, they told us she was clear after that.  A couple months later all the symptoms started coming back," Lisa Gaffney said.

"Don't give up and hang in there.  Don't lose faith because it may take a while but eventually it will get better," said Josie Gaffney.

Josie Gaffney is not giving up.  She plans to graduate high school next year then go to college for medical research.

"Cause I've lived through it and I know how hard it can be.  We don't know that much about it so I feel like almost like I have to so I can help other people who end up in my same situation," said Josie Gaffney.

Friends of Josie started an organization called Journey 4 Josie, to raise awareness and help with medical bills.  Ten hyperbaric treatments cost about $9,000, and that is only one of Josie Gaffney's many treatments.

There is a Journey 4 Josie 5K fundraiser coming up on Saturday, August 2.  It begins at 9 a.m. At Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park in Mechanicsburg.  For more information visit http://www.journey4josie.org/.

State senator Sean Wiley is currently drafting "Josie's Bill."  It fights for better Lyme disease testing and treatment for people under the age of 18.

For additional information on Lyme disease visit http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/ and http://www.lymenet.org/SupportGroups/UnitedStates/Pennsylvania/Harrisburg.shtml.

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