Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, it’s diagnosis and treatment can be challenging because of its diverse manifestations and the limitations of blood tests. A Fresno woman has made it her mission to spread awareness of Lyme disease after her daughter battled the illness for ten years and ultimately died from it.
Lyme disease is transmitted through a blacklegged tick bite, found on the West Coast, particularly Northern California, according to the CDC.
When Jody Hudson is in her peaceful backyard, she is most connected to her daughter Alex.
“She was a typical girl, she loved athletics as much as she loved the girly girl and dance stuff, and what not,” said Jody.
Alex was only 22 when she left this Earth. Her mother said it was complications from Lyme disease and mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) that took her life.
Jody stated, “Through her death, she breathed life into me. She gave me purpose and I knew what I needed to do, which is to form this foundation and educate and really create awareness for others.”
The Hudson family’s battle with Lyme disease began when Alex was in elementary school.
“She was getting joint pains and she was having inflammation,” Jody commented.
Doctors said maybe Alex was being overworked in sports. She would put ice on her joints and take ibuprofen to relieve the pain.
Jody said, “It was very severe, I mean she would be crying and you just think as a parent it’s growing pains.”
By the time Alex started high school, Jody said she couldn’t run and play sports anymore. Adding to the frustration of a mystery diagnosis, Alex began having digestive issues and food allergies. Alex was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease in May 2017.
“After doing the whole family history, (they) said Mrs. Hudson, have you heard of tick borne illness? And I said what is tick borne illness? And he explained it to me and he said, Alex has all the classic symptoms of having a tick borne illness,” explained Jody.
Jody said her daughter wanted to be the face of Lyme disease, and show people you can fight it and make it. But, Jody said, “When she knew that wasn’t going to happen, she said ‘Mom,’ she goes, ‘I want you to basically take my torch and I want you to make sure that you create awareness for other people’. So, May being Lyme Awareness Month, that’s what I’m going to do, I want to create awareness. I want to have information out there for parents and other people that have symptoms.”
Alex died in March 2018, and Jody started the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation, in Alex’s name, just three months later. Her mission is to make people aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, which can include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
“I don’t want anybody to go through what I had to go through, with Alex and what we went through together,” said Jody.
Through awareness, education, and funding, the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation will carry on Alex’s wishes of bringing awareness to Lyme disease and raising funds for treatment and testing.
If you think you’ve been exposed to Lyme disease, talk with your primary care physician.
And to learn more about the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation, click here.