By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – You don’t hear much about Lyme disease in Colorado. The ticks that spread the infection aren’t found in the state. But Lyme disease affects about 300,000 people in the U S every year. One of them, an 11-year-old from Denver, has made educating people about Lyme disease her cause.
Olivia Goodreau will tell you it is life changing.
“I was losing my vision. My face was turning really pale and sometimes I would feel like I had the flu,” Olivia told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
That was in the fall of 2013. Olivia was always sick and no one could figure out why.
“I saw 50 doctors and they misdiagnosed me four times,” she said.
The then second grader spent time in the hospital.
“I had a liver biopsy, a spinal tap, a copper test,” Olivia said.
“We went looking to see if she had a brain tumor, if she had cancer,” explained her mother, Holiday Goodreau.
In third grade, Olivia was worse and her parents, Holiday and Stan Goodreau, were terribly worried.
“Some doctors were like, ‘We can’t figure it out.’ Some doctors were like, ‘Nothing’s wrong, maybe she’s making this up,’” said Holiday.
Walsh asked Stan Goodreau how tough it was seeing his little girl suffer?
“There is no worse pain as a parent,” he answered.
Finally, after 18 months, the Goodreau’s had an explanation — Lyme disease.
“I think I got it in Missouri,” explained Olivia.
They think Olivia was bitten by an infected tick at Lake of the Ozarks while on summer vacation in 2013. Once diagnosed, she was immediately put on antibiotics for 30 days.
“Day 35 she started tanking again,” said Holiday.
Now, Olivia takes 9 pills twice a day and assorted herbal remedies. She’s a lot better, but not back to normal.
“They do not have a cure for Lyme disease,” said the now 5th grader.
Olivia has made Lyme disease education her cause. She developed a tick kit with a classmate. She challenges people to take a bite out of a real lime to raise awareness and funding for better diagnosis and treatment. The Take a Bite Out of Lyme Disease Challenge kicked off in March and is ongoing. For more information, go to lymediseasechallenge.org/join-lyme-disease-challenge.