Cindy & Foe

In 2001, Cindy Wood noticed an infected bite on the back of her neck, and since the symptoms were unusual – high fever, swollen lymph glands, painfully stiff neck – she went to the doctor. But the symptoms persisted, then intensified, and new ones appeared. She saw more doctors, but none was able to help. Wood began to suspect she was suffering from Lyme disease, but she says that no doctor would check for it, because they told her Lyme doesn't occur in this part of the U.S. It took a decade of research and consultations with natural therapists and a naturopath for Wood to receive the correct diagnosis.

Unfortunately, that long infection has caused Wood's central nervous system, digestive system, organs, hormones, and chemical balance to go "out of whack" and her immune system to be "in peril." It's led to difficulty with memory and concentration; rheumatoid arthritis; leaky gut; muscle weakness; stammering in her speech; tremors in her right arm and hand; chronic pain; difficulty sleeping; episodes of dizziness, fainting, and vertigo; heart palpitations; and depression.

Through the help of other Lyme patients, Wood located a doctor specializing in infectious diseases. He's prescribed long-term treatment using intense, intravenous antibiotics combined with natural boosting therapies. But she hasn't received treatment because of the cost – as much as some cancer treatments, she says – and because it isn't covered by her insurance company. That's why she's reaching out for community support. She's launched a crowdfunding campaign at www.gofundme.com/4xl6oo.

So far, Wood can still do everything at Esther's she's always done, save one magic trick with Ray Anderson. "I can still jump and flip and dance and sing and act and bust my ass backstage," she says. "It just hurts like hell when I'm done – much more than usual – and I now require too much time to recover." Treatment will help "level out the playing field," she says, and when it does, "that ugly ol' Lyme better watch out cuz little Cynthia Ethel Wood's gonna bounce back and kick its butt!"

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