Athlone's Cara Hurley will travel to Germany later this month in a bid to find a cure for Lyme disease.

Cara looks to Germany in bid to find Lyme disease cure

A young Athlone woman is to travel to a clinic in Germany later this month in a last-ditch effort to find a cure for Lyme disease.

Cara Hurley from Auburn Heights, contracted the bacterial infection while on holiday in Greece in October 2019 and says she the last two years have been “a living hell” with her symptoms being so severe that she was unable to remain in her teaching job.

The career guidance teacher set up a GoFundMe page last week in a desperate bid to raise €20,000 for three weeks of intensive treatment at the Fachklinik clinic with oncologist, Dr Alexander Herzog in Nidda/Bad Salzhausen, on the outskirts of Frankfurt.

In the space of just two days, the popular Athlone woman had raised over €15,000 and is well on the way to meeting her fundraising target before she flies out to Germany for her treatment on January 22 next. The total now stands at over €17,000.

Cara has developed late-stage chronic Lyme disease, which she says is “not recognised by Irish healthcare providers” and she feels her only hope of finding a cure is to try a treatment called hyperthermia, which kills the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme disease.

“The treatment involves heating the body up to 42 degrees Celsius, and there is a 60% to 70% chance that I will be cured if I go to Germany,” she says, adding that she has now exhausted almost all the treatment options available to her in Ireland.

Cara Hurley has gone from being a busy and happy young woman who loved yoga, exercise, socialising and walking her dog to being “mostly housebound and confined to bed for six months out of the past two years,” she saif.

“As a result of my symptoms I had to give my beautiful dog of seven years up for adoption as I couldn’t walk,” she sadly admitted.

Just when she felt her Lyme disease symptoms were beginning to recede, Cara Hurley contracted Covid-19 last Christmas. “I was beginning to think I was about 90% cured of Lyme disease at Christmas 2020 and when I contracted Covid my Lyme symptoms began to get progressively worse and I suffered from long Covid as well,” she said.

Cara Hurley (40) pictured before contracting Lyme disease.

Cara, who worked as a career guidance teacher in Skerries Community College in Dublin for nine years, and was also on the teaching staff of Coláiste Chiaráin in Summerhill and Ardscoil Chiarain Naofa in Clara, county Offaly, said she wakes up every day feeling like she has “one fifth” of her normal energy and also suffers from “heart palpitations, head pressure, severe shortness of breath and nerve pain that feels as if glass is scraping through my tissues”.

She also suffers with migratory muscle pain, chills, memory loss and peripheral neuropathy, along with a litany of other symptoms.

Because Lyme disease is not recognised by Irish healthcare providers, Cara Hurley has had to fund all her treatment privately over the past two years. She is currently under the care of infectious disease consultant, Dr Jack Lambert, in the Mater Hospital, who is the only medical expert treating patients with chronic Lyme disease in Ireland.

“I have been under his care for 16 months, taking treble and quadruple antibiotics and antimalarials, along with a range of other supplements and medicines, but they are no longer working because my immune system has become too weak,” said Cara.

Keeping her disease at bay currently costs the young Athlone woman over €1,000 a month, at a time when she is out of work and on illness benefit, so she said she was left with “no option” but to seek alternative treatment options abroad.

“I did a lot of research into the treatments available, and I feel my best option is to go for hyperthermia, because I really feel at this stage that I need to get my life back, “ Cara explained.

The daughter of the late Denise and Kevin Hurley, Cara moved back to Athlone four years ago when she purchased her own home, but she was living a “very active and fulfilled life” and had never been sick up to the time she took a mid-term holiday to Greece in October 2019. “I got bitten by mosquitos that carried Lyme bacteria, and because I wasn’t diagnosed early enough the bacteria had time to take hold and destroy my immune system,” she explained.

Apart from trying to find a cure for her own Lyme disease, Cara Hurley is determined to raise awareness about the illness.

“It is a very controversial disease,” she said. “And I would really like to see it being recognised more by the medical profession and to see treatment being funded by Irish healthcare providers because it is very common and many people just suffer in silence with it,” Cara Hurley concluded.

To donate, go to the GoFundMe website and type in Cara Hurley.