Hope for a cure
First-year biology/pre-physician assistant major Megan Tilton learned that lesson the most difficult way possible, when she got devastatingly sick seven years ago.
Physicians failed to diagnose the root cause of her symptoms: seizures, cognitive deficiencies, severe fatigue. Sometimes, even the inability to walk.
So Tilton, ever the serious scholar, did her own investigating.
“I did a research paper on Lyme and made the connection,” Tilton said. “My mom’s friends had been prompting her to get me tested around the same time.”
Sure enough, after a visit to a Lyme Disease specialist, her blood test came back positive.
At present, there is no cure for the disease – only treatment.
“There is simply a lack of knowledge about Lyme, so doctors rarely recognize it,” Tilton said. “Lyme also imitates many other illnesses, so a lot of people end up on a wild goose chase.”
Tilton is on a lifelong mission to raise awareness – May is Lyme Disease Awareness month – and she recently designed a t-shirt to help spread the word, as well as support those who can’t afford the expensive Lyme treatments that insurance often doesn’t cover.
“I came up with the design based on the fact that I – and many others – have been hoping for a cure for a very long time,” she said. “It's really all you can do when there isn't a cure. I'm hoping that efforts like this will someday lead to a cure! Lyme disease has affected my life more than I could ever write down. There have been times when it has become my life, and there have been times when it prevented me from living my life to the extent that I wanted to.”
Despite this, Tilton noted, Lyme also has brought unexpected gifts. New relationships. Undiscovered strength. An-ever deepening faith.
“It has taken away a lot but it has also made me stronger,” Tilton said. “I wouldn't be who I am had I not faced this battle.”
Tilton feels proud to be almost finished with her first year of college.
“I have made wonderful friends who support me and will help me when I'm having a day that I'm not doing well. It has definitely been hard, trying to keep up with school and a social life (especially since I'm often absent for treatment), and I won't say that there have been times when I thought it was too much to handle,” Tilton said. “Living on my own also brings new challenges. But despite all of that, I have loved being at Malone, and everyone has been so amazing!”