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Support Group Helps Lyme Patients

Summer is the season for ticks and the threat of Lyme disease. For people with Lyme, coping with the disease is half the battle, but luckily Time For Lyme's new executive director, David Martin says there's a support group to help. "Interaction is helpful," said Martin. "Everyone has a little bit of a different experience and it gives them the opportunity to talk to one another."

Time for Lyme, a nonprofit research, education and advocacy network based in Stamford, will start its monthly support group again in the fall at Greenwich Town Hall. Beginning in September and continuing the first Thursday of the month, people with new and ongoing cases of Lyme disease will have a place to share their experiences and offer advice.

Lyme is an infectious inflammatory disease, caused by the bacteria carried by the bit of a deer tick and is characterized by a rash with joint swelling, fever and headaches. If left untreated can cause infection in the joints, heart or nervous system. Seeking support is a way Lyme patients can cope with the complexities of living with the disease.

"Our facilitator, Angela LaManna, has had Lyme herself and what she does is host a formal session to get people together to talk about the disease and provide information, but not medical advice," said Martin, adding that after the 90-minute meeting, people typically stay to talk with each other.

"It's a relatively new organization with a lot of potential," says Martin who joined Time for Lyme just three months ago. Martin has a background in the health-care field, mainly working with the American Lung Association. He says before coming on board with the organization, he didn't know much more about Lyme than the average person.

"My kids had Lyme and luckily they were given antibiotics right away, but for most people diagnosis tests are only 50 percent accurate and they take too long to get results and by that time the disease may have already become chronic," said Martin.

Most of Time for Lyme's funding goes to its main research center at Columbia University. One of Martin's new initiatives will be advertising and raising money through its biannual gala event as well as a holiday boutique at Christ Hall Parish Church in Greenwich this October.

"We're hoping to raise $1 million in the next year to help fund our research to help doctors find a better road map for treatment options," said Martin.

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