This is Fran.

This is Fran.

She is a strong, creative, beautiful person. And, she has Lyme. To say someone has lyme sounds trite. She is an amazing warrior. She has to decide whether or not she has the energy to go to the post office. And, once there, with her chemical sensitivity, she has to trust, hope, believe that the other customers aren’t sporting the latest stinky fragrance.

Most people have no idea what it feels like to nearly stop breathing from toxic perfume. Fran and I are sisters in that way. And, she reminds me, by doing her own life, that being an artist really matters. Lyme doesn’t take that part away, just rearranges it a little bit. Makes you fight to find it sometimes, but it doesn’t vanish.

Here’s Fran’s story:

I was bitten by a tick in the Spring of 1994 and diagnosed with Lyme and treated – and then pulled off of treatment abruptly by my infectious disease specialist as he believed I was a false positive. Having said that I was born and raised in Upstate NY and I have reason to believe that I may have been born with Lyme in 1976.

I have been strangely ill off and on since I was three years old. I began having strange illnesses again in 2001. And the severity of my illness flared tremendously in 2006. I have been steadily declining ever since.

Before the disease became debilitating I worked full-time in women’s health care clinics, low-income health clinics and with Cancer patients. I also volunteered and advocated extensively for women’s reproductive rights and patients rights to health care regardless of income. I wrote poetry essays and performed extensively along the West Coast. I was a teaching poet in Washington State visiting classrooms and talking to often at-risk youth about the power or story-telling and self expression. I hosted open mics and poetry slam and fund raising events for many organizations and people. I spent a lot of time with my friends. I walked everywhere. I danced all the time. I dreamed of having children one day.

I have no children, and I am queer. I have made the decision to not have children because I am afraid I would pass Lyme onto them.

When I am well I hope to adopt one or more children. I hope to tour the country performing my poetry, speaking about the need for Universal Health Care, the very real threat of Lyme Disease, the need for clean water, and affordable antibiotics and anti-malarials around the world. I plan to write my one-woman show and perform it in as many places as possible. I plan to write many books. I would like to open an animal refuge. I’d like to rejoin my friends in the San Francisco Bay area and eat good food, and fall in love entirely too often while laughing very loud and not taking anything for granted.

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2 responses to “This is Fran.

  1. Wow Fran, you rock. I sincerely hope that you head towards remission someday very soon because the world needs you. When you’re ready to get back out there, I have a sneaky suspicion that you’re going to be one of those “movers and shakers”. I hope and pray that it happens soon for you. You definitely deserve that. Keep fighting (I know you will). ❤ Candice

  2. Jeanne, thanks for sharing Fran’s story, and Fran, thank you for telling it! This is the face of Lyme, indeed, and so many of us are suffering, challenged to share our gifts with the world as we would wish, compromised by ability, energy, and having to focus our resources on getting ourselves well. While I hate the Lyme diagnosis, I am humbled by the driven, talented, humanity-loving people who also struggle with Lyme, and proud to be in their community-at-large. Let’s rock where we are, and as we are able, and shake this up, for the good of all people.

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