Blog donated by Jody Hudson
To learn more about the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation visit https://alexhudsonlymefoundation.org/
When a mother gives birth to a child, a series of “firsts” flood through her mind. She envisions her baby’s first steps, the first day of school, the first soccer game or the first dance recital. If she has a daughter, she thinks of consoling her after her first break-up, helping her pack for her first year of college and helping her pick out her wedding dress with her closest friends.
What a mother does not envision, however, is planning a funeral and saying goodbye to her child forever. But that’s exactly what happened to me in March of 2018, when I lost my only daughter, Alex, to a decade-long battle of Lyme Disease and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
Those who knew Alex well would describe her as having a heart of gold. A gifted student, Alex excelled in school and was a talented athlete. She took on challenges with a smile on her face, and was passionate about helping those around her. When she wasn’t studying or perfecting her athletic abilities, you could find her volunteering her time with young children, or feeding the homeless. Alex always felt that she was called to serve others, and thrived the most when she was able to give back to her community.
Despite her love for an adventurous life, Alex’s body began to significantly weaken at the young age of 12. Originally dismissed as growing pains or overtraining from sports, Alex’s symptoms were often overlooked by many health providers. As the years progressed, however, Alex symptoms got progressively worse. Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, migraines and depression were just a few of the symptoms that Alex experienced, and with every day that passed, Alex’s physical ailments grew.
Determined to find out the root of my daughter’s illness, I did everything in my power to have Alex meet with some of Central Valley’s finest physicians. Countless doctor visits and several misdiagnoses later, we still didn’t have an answer to what was going on. Frustrated, Alex began to research her condition on her own and discovered a doctor in Southern California who might provide answers. After a few tests were given, Alex was officially diagnosed with Lyme disease, and had a diagnosis that finally made sense. This was in May of 2017…ten years after her first onset of symptoms.
While we had answers to a decade worth of questions, we were also informed that Alex had developed MCAS as a co-infection of Lyme. In addition to the physical and physiological pain that Alex endured because of Lyme, her body was now essentially attacking itself since she also had MCAS.
Two things happened once Alex learned of her ailments: she devoted herself to learning as much as she could about Lyme Disease and MCAS, and she informed me that she wanted to not only beat the diseases, but also become a vessel of change for the Lyme and MCAS communities. She was on a mission to help others.
Soon after her diagnosis, Alex’s body progressively worsened. Her symptoms escalated and she continued to lose weight. But even through immense pain, Alex never complained and only wanted to help others. Hoping to beat her illness and become a testimony for others, Alex fought to the end. When she knew that God had other plans for her, we made a pact. She told me to tell her story and carry out her wishes to help others. She drew her last breath on March 24, 2018.
While the grief of losing one’s child is unlike anything else in the world, I knew that it was up to me to keep Alex’s spirit alive. When people asked me how I was able to get out of bed in the morning after the death of my child, I simply said how could I not. My pain paled in comparison to the pain and suffering that my daughter endured. I had to move forward. I had to carry out her legacy.
I knew that Alex wanted nothing more than to help those living with Lyme and MCAS, and thus the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation (AHLF) was born. With a mission to support proper testing, research and advocacy for MCAS and Lyme disease, AHLF was granted its 501c3 status in June of 2018, and has grown tremendously ever since.
In just over a year, AHLF has accomplished several remarkable feats. From awarding our first grant to a Lyme patient in need, to planning and executing our annual fundraiser, “Tea for Alex”, we haven’t wasted any time gathering support to honor Alex’s legacy. The fundraisers alone have raised over $60,000 for MCAS and Lyme research. AHLF, along with Global Lyme Alliance, co-sponsored a $50,000 research grant named after Alex. This was an important initiative and will secure Alex’s name being attached to scientific research. We also are working with Girl Scouts of Central California South and rolling out Lyme curriculum to over 11,000 girls.
While the details noted above are extremely inspiring, it’s important to note that I carried this out while working full time as the Director of Operations at Catholic Charities. I was also awarded the Marjaree Mason Center’s Top Ten Business Women of the Year in 2018.
I loved Alex more than words can ever convey, and AHLF’s success is a testament to my lifelong commitment to honoring Alex’s legacy. Every day it’s Alex who guides me and gives me direction with her foundation. While she was taken from this world far too soon, my work through AHLF will make it so that no mother has to miss out on her son’s or daughter’s “firsts” ever again.