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Parksville event aims to bring awarenessabout lyme disease

Lyme disease "can be devastating, physically, emotionally and financially," according to one local sufferer who hopes an event next week will help bring attention to the often misunderstood issue.

"There is much controversy surrounding the issue of lyme in the medical community," said Nicky Westnedge, who added there is a lot of ignorance about the disease, with no reliable testing or treatment available in Canada.

Westnedge, who travels to Seattle for treatment that isn't covered by her B.C. medical, said it is very frustrating that there are so few "lyme literate" doctors in Canada, though she has found a "local lyme literate naturopathic doctor."

Sue Aldous, with the Parksville/Qualicum Lyme Support Group, explained that the disease, caused by ticks, has over 70 possible symptoms that are often mis-diagnosed as everything from multiple sclerosis to lupus, Alzheimer's and ALS.

The symptoms range across the entire spectrum with some of the more common ones including chronic headaches, muscle pain, stiffness, digestive problems, numbness, light or sound sensitivity and depression. The support group is hosting an awareness event this Saturday, May 10 at 1:30 p.m. at the Parksville Community Centre. Sponsored by a private donor and the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, there will be guest speakers and a question period with lyme awareness advocates MLA Lana Popham and former MLA David Cubberley. For more information check canlyme.org or www.facebook.com/PQBLyme for the local group.

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