DENVER -- There are not many people in Colorado who know as much about Lyme disease as Olivia Goodreau, who is just 12-years-old.
The Denver girl had no choice but to learn after her own nightmare experience with a tiny tick. She was 7 years old and enjoying family time at Lake of the Ozarks where her family vacations every summer. Goodreau didn’t realize a tick latched onto her, changing her life forever.
“At first I didn’t even know there was such things as ticks,” Goodreau, who months later started feeling sick, said. "I started to get dizzy, then I started losing my vision. I always felt really sick and I was really tired”.
It was her teacher at Graland Country Day who first noticed Goodreau was having trouble focusing, and raised concerns with her parents.
“She went from this sweet, bubbly kid with a twinkle in her eye, to a child who could not track you, who was completely checked out” said Goodreau’s mom, Holiday, who was beside herself trying to figure out what was going on with her daughter. They went to doctor after doctor but no one could provide an answer. Finally, 51 doctors and 18 months later, they found out Goodreau had Lyme disease.
“I was misdiagnosed for 18 months, and right now I take 86 pills a day."
Goodreau's mom said they have to get up a half hour earlier for her to take all of her pills. "There are some mornings her stomach just can’t handle it and she’s throwing up her pills and we have to start over,” she said.
Still, Goodreau doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her. She wants you to help her find a cure so she can help others who are not so fortunate.
“I just want to bring awareness, find a cure and help children afford their Lyme disease medication.”
Goodreau has taken a very personal battle and has taken it public by starting her own website where she tells her story, has testimonials from Colorado elected officials who she challenged to support her, and where she gets feedback from others like her, dealing with Lyme disease.
“When I think of people looking up (to others), I think they look up to older people, or people who have made the plane or the American flag, and kind of not me, since I’m 12,” Goodreau said.
Goodreau said she is now planning her first ever gala and you are invited to attend. The gala is taking place Saturday, April 8 at Infinity Park in Glendale. She even convinced Lyme disease expert Dr. Richard Horowitz to be the guest speaker.
Goodreau said she believes Lyme disease made her think she could make a change in the world and she is doing so -- one step at a time.