Winnipegger travelled to New York for Lyme disease treatment
Published Sunday, August 23, 2015 9:23PM CST Last Updated Monday, August 24, 2015 6:02PM CST
A Winnipeg man says he travelled to New York State to get treatment for his chronic Lyme disease.
Richard Underwood joined the Canadian Forces in 2007 as a teen. He believes that’s when he contracted the disease.
Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, spread Lyme disease through their bite.
They live in tall grass and fields.
Underwood felt his first symptoms in 2007, but they disappeared soon after.
Years of pain, fatigue, memory loss and doctor visits followed before Underwood was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in May 2015 by an American doctor.
“It was like the weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” said Underwood.
But that relief would soon turn to frustration, when doctors told Underwood he could not receive treatment for his illness in Canada.
“I can’t get treatment for chronic Lyme disease in Canada, but I can get treatment for acute Lyme disease in Canada,” said Underwood.
He’s currently receiving treatment from a doctor in New York that is expected to take between three and five years. The cost is up to $100,000.
“As Canadians we tend to not think about access to treatment as an actual obstacle in our lives. But there it was,” said Richard’s friend, Nasser Barakat.
Underwood said he cannot work due to the disease, and had to put his studies at the University of Manitoba on hold.
He and his friends hope that sharing his story will raise awareness, and inspire other to ask questions about chronic Lyme disease in Canada.
Underwood’s friends are also raising money to help fund his treatment online.