MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the summer months arrive, ticks are starting to come out from hibernation, which means residents could be at risk of contracting Lyme disease.
In conjunction with May being Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a Myrtle Beach woman who has lived with the pain hosted an inaugural awareness event at Beach Church in hopes of being a voice to others.
For Dawn Zauner, it started with a simple red rash, but later took over her whole body.
For some time, multiple doctors told her nothing was wrong. Now, Zauner is making it her mission to raise awareness and teach people what to look out for.
"If it's not treated correctly in the beginning of the disease, it can turn into a chronic infection," she said.
After spending almost three years visiting eight different doctors and still not knowing, a chronic inflammation spread to her brain and spine.
"You go to doctors when you're sick to find out what's wrong, so when a doctor tells you they have no idea what's wrong with you, it's incredibly frustrating because you have no answers and you're just getting sicker," Zauner said.
By doing research on her own, she finally found a Lyme-literate doctor and got the answers she needed.
"I found the doctor who I'm seeing now who was able to start treatment for chronic Lyme disease and ever since then, I've been feeling a lot better," Zauner said. "So, fingers crossed that stays the same."
Although she found a doctor, she now is paying thousands of dollars for appointments, medicines and lab tests. It's a bill her insurance doesn't cover.
"Interesting thing is that because the CDC doesn't think that chronic Lyme disease exists, any Lyme-literate doctor doesn't work with insurance agencies," Zauner said. "So, now that I'm seeing someone who knows what's wrong with me and is actually treating me, my insurance doesn't do me any good."
With the doctor making her take lower hours at work, her family does everything they can to take care of her and her dog, but she had to set up a Go Fund Me page to help with costs.
"I was reluctant to do it at first because I don't want to ask people for money, but after a while it turned out to be a really good idea," Zauner said. "That's how I've been able to afford all my medicines."