Thanks largely to a local Member of Parliament, Caesars Windsor isn’t the only group in the county ‘shining a light’ on Lyme Disease awareness.
The Windsor Essex Compassion Care Community held its Shining A Light On Compassion Celebration for Kingsville last week, where the first of several awards was presented to a Leamington resident who’s spent the past decade fighting to bring proper diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease to patients in Essex County and across Canada. Cheryl Abbate was one of 16 residents of either Kingsville or surrounding areas to receive an award in one of eight different categories that included Compassion, Business, Volunteerism, Arts, Faith, Community Service, Neighbours and Community Leadership.
Abbate was presented with one of five Shining A Light On Compassion awards by Essex MP Tracey Ramsey following the event’s opening remarks by Kingsville Community Church pastor Brandon Cousineau, Kingsville mayor Nelson Santos, Ramsey and WECCC director Deborah Sattler. A similar WECCC event was held at Sun Parlour Homes in Leamington in late June. The Kingsville gathering was originally scheduled for June 30, but was postponed by inclement weather conditions.
Santos presented the majority of the awards in the basement of Kingsville Community Church, which shares the 1860 Division Street North facility with the Kingsville Community Centre. Ramsey, who submitted Abbate’s name as a candidate for a Compassion award, kicked off the ceremony by introducing the first recipient as a crucial advocate for Lyme patients while also struggling with the affects of the disease herself.
“Even though she struggles with her own health, she has so much compassion and kindness for others that she is constantly putting her health to the side in helping people in our community,” Ramsey said of Abbate, who had to cross the border into Michigan to receive a positive diagnoses for Lyme in 2007.
Abbate and other members of the Sun County support group have lobbied medical and government officials over the past months and years to improve both testing and treatment practices for Lyme Disease in Canada, where testing is able to detect only one of several strains. Many members of the group, which includes more than 300 patients hailing from across Essex County and Chatham-Kent, have been met with steady resistance and denial from family and local physicians while seeking treatment.
“We don’t do this for the recognition — we do this because there are people who are suffering,” said Abbate, who added that many Lyme patients would rather have cancer because of the more readily available treatment for the better-known disease.
Abbate, who was accompanied by other members of the Sun County Lyme group, stressed to the large gathering of the event’s visitors that self-education and frequent checks for ticks are paramount in avoiding Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.
“Most people don’t know it, but ticks can be thought of as nature’s dirty needles,” she explained.
Abbate also noted that the United Nations is currently investigating human rights violations against Lyme Disease patients, a matter the international organization discussed last month during a meeting at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Back on the home front, she described Ramsey as a crucial representative in supporting the push for better Lyme patient support in Canada.
“Tracey is very much on our side in working hard to help correct this matter,” Abbate said. “We really appreciate her support.”
For more information on the local Lyme group, visit Sun County Lyme Awareness Support Group on its Facebook page. Additional information on the disease can be found at www.canlyme.com.
The Shining A Light On Compassion Celebration in Kingsville featured 20 booths set up by service groups and businesses from across the county, including Leamington-based Southwestern Ontario Gleaners. The WECCC’s network of care services are offered through more than 100 agencies and associations as well as a growing team of volunteers, sponsors and partners. For more on WECCC’s services and programming, visit the website www.compassionatecarecommunity.com.