Monday, November 3, 2008
Leslie Rae Wermers
This is our dear friend Les from Minnesota Lymefighters, with the pumpkin bear we sent her for Halloween. She has been a tireless advocate, despite her own struggles with Lyme and co-infections. She was in the Lyme documentary, "Under Our Skin." Recently Les attended the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) Conference in San Francisco and was energized by all the research news.
Anna and I spoke on the phone with Les on Saturday and she excitedly filled us in. She told us that she had been able to spend some time with Dr. Willy Burgdorfer. He is the research scientist who discovered the Lyme spirochete, which is called Borrelia Burgdorferi. She had become friends with him simply by calling and letting him know that he was a hero to those of us in the Lyme community. In San Francisco she gave Dr. Burgdorfer hugs from Anna and me too. She gave me his number and urged me to call him. She was also responsible for a large box arriving at our house, full of free tick-removal tools to hand out at the next movie screening. We gleefully told her it had arrived and shared our news about Anna's NPR interview. We talked until everyone was tired, then said I love you and goodnight.
Last night I came home to a phone call from Paula, Les' partner. I felt the ground open underneath me as Paula tearfully told me that Les died yesterday morning. Then I had to go and tell my daughter. We held each other and cried for the loss of our beloved friend.
So, the next time a doctor tells you that Lyme is, "Hard to get, easy to treat, cannot get chronic, and cannot kill you," you look them straight in the eye and give them her name, Leslie Rae Wermers. Tell them to get educated.
Rest in peace and be without pain, my beautiful friend, we'll continue the fight for you. I promise.