“Lyme disease is not an illness often heard about in the media,” DeCesare said. “Yet for many, this tick-born virus is a death sentence -— forever changing their lives for the worse.”
For DeCesare, her dark journey began in the summer of 1995. She had always been an avid gardener and enjoyed walking the back property of her Mineral Ridge home where her gardens were abundant. One particular day she had been gardening and when she came inside the house, she noticed a bug bite with a red rash around it.
“I really didn’t pay any mind at the time,” she said.
Four years later, she began growing sicker and sicker. She was treated by one doctor for ringworm. The treatment lasted seven months and left her feeling even sicker than before.
She said she went through 13 doctors, three hospitals and $50,000 out-of-pocket expenses before one doctor had her tested for Lyme disease and found the results were positive.
Now DeCesare is on the road to recovery after four-and-a-half years of antibiotic treatment. She looks back on the past 12 years and realized that Lyme disease has been brushed under the carpet for too long. She decided to make it her mission to bring it into the spotlight and give others suffering from it a little hope. One main point she makes is finding the right medical doctor.
“With thousands infected each year, the misdiagnosis and lack of knowledge in the mainstream medical community is shocking,” DeCesare said.
The first defense is to be aware of ticks. She said wherever deer roam, the feared deer tick that is a carrier of Lyme disease might be found. Her home is near Meander Reservoir and is frequented by deer.
She said if a tick does bite, seek medical attention and let the doctor know it was a tick bite.
“If you catch it within a year after being bit, you have a chance to eradicate it,” she said.
DeCesare has come a long way since the initial bite and her failing health.
“Eight years ago, I could hardly walk,” she said. “I am slowly regaining my health. My calling is to be there for others who are traveling the long dark road of Lyme disease.”
DeCesare will hold book signings at the Vitamin Shoppe, 5704 Youngstown-Warren Road, Niles, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19; at the St. Joseph Health Fair in the Eastwood Mall from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 29; and at the Poland Library, 311 S. Main St., Poland at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
“When I do a signing, I always say I am planting seeds of knowledge on Lyme disease,” she said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Janet L. DeCesare went through a very tough time after a simple tick bite left her with Lyme disease. After years of tests, treatments, and misdiagnosis, she finally found a doctor who could treat her ailment and give her life back. DeCesare wrote the book “Ticked Off” to tell her story and encourage and inform others. She will be holding a book signing at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Poland Library, 311 S. Main St., in Poland Village.