It is with great sadness that I share with you the news of the passing of my friend Tracie's sister, Leslie Wermers.
Leslie died of complications from Lyme Disease on November 2, 2008 at the age of 41.
Leslie Rae Wermers 07-07-1967 to 11-02-2008
Loving Sister; Daughter; Life Partner; Jayder's Lessie; Aunt; Ralphie and Dudley's Mommy; Advocate and Cherished Friend
You've touched so many lives in so many wonderful ways
Tracie and her sister Leslie are the co-founders of the Minnesota Lymefighters Advocacy. They created Lymefighters in order to educate, guide and support others in fighting the battle against Lyme Disease. Both Tracie and Leslie were diagnosed with late stage Lyme Disease and as such made it their life purpose to:
"Fight Lyme together and to help others in their fight"
Tracie and Leslie aka The Lymefighters
Leslie and Tracie were instrumental in helping us navigate through the craziness that surrounded our first, frenzied trip to the states with the McQuhae family. Seeking and arranging medical treatment out of country would have been an overwhelming task and logistical nightmare without the help we received them.
Over the past 6 months,Tracie and I have stayed in touch. From the get go, we had an immediate sense of connection and have since found that we have much more than just Lyme in common. Tracie's help and support has been a God send to me. Her strength has given me courage and her sense of humor makes me laugh in spite of myself and LD. (Flying sans clothes will haunt me forever!) Tracie has often remarked that both her and Leslie felt honored to be able to help LD patients. They are remarkable women whose life and service are a shining example of their passion and purpose. I am blessed to have been on the receiving end of their amazing support and help. It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I grieve with Tracie and her family...their loss is immense...Tracie has lost her best friend, her sister, her partner in Lyme.
And we have all lost a great Lyme warrior and advocate.
Please take a moment to watch the Under Our Skin memorial footage in honor of Leslie:
'Requiem of a Lyme Sufferer and Selfless Patient Advocate' written by my friend Bill M
It was with a great deal of sadness that I heard of Leslie Wermer’s sudden demise, having lost the battle with her Lyme Disease complications.
I only came to know her in the spring of this year when becoming involved in helping the McQuhae family, but quickly held her in high regard when seeing her selflessness in respect to helping others with Lyme who were in desperate straits.
Despite suffering badly with Lyme & coinfections herself, and while ignoring the stress to her advancing condition, Leslie selflessly dedicated herself to helping others desperately ill with TBIDs in any way, and as best she could. In the last few months she had trouble maintaining her advocacy for others.
Along with her sister Tracie Schissel, they were instrumental in creating www.lymefighters.org an advocacy site, whose sole intention is to help others with Lyme and promote awareness. Joining with Judith Weeg of Iowa Lyme who began the LDUC (Lyme Disease United Coalition), they drew together numerous local support groups under the coalition.
In a June ’08 article in the Brainerd Dispatch, it was stated that Lymefighters had assisted some 1,200 individuals throughout the country, and since, it has increased to over 1,500 (can add a few Canadians now as well).
For those of you who don’t know Lymefighters, they perform Lyme Patient advocacy, and are dedicated to promoting awareness in every way they can. Having no time for the negativity and politics sometimes associated with major advocacy sites and their forums, they take a direct, hands-on approach to just help Lyme patients, and getting awareness out to the public and medical professionals. Their site has no forum, and they aren’t affiliated with any major advocacy groups. They simply find persons who are in the most desperate situations and help them through many forms of assistance - financially when they can arrange it, medications from charities, locating LLMDs, arranging payment terms with them for patients, finding housing, assisting with disability/insurance applications, and so much more!
You may have met Leslie and Tracie at the 2007 and 2008 Scientific Sessions of the ILADS conference. Leslie was the tall, thin brunette, who collected the question cards and worked at registration. She was in the Under our Skin movie, ironically, shown at the memorial service for another Lyme victim.
Besides a great deal of time spent in patient advocacy, Tracie runs a local support group, appears in radio interviews regularly, is involved with LDUC to bring local support groups together, and does many LD presentations (often to large groups). Although very focused on Lyme Advocacy, she has a great sense of humor, as did sister Leslie. I truly hope the stress of Leslie’s loss won’t bring Tracie down – in health or spirit. Our hearts and prayers go out to sister, Tracie Schissel. She must be encouraged to go easy for a while and monitor her own Lyme condition. The world couldn’t afford the loss of one of these sisters... Hopefully members of Tracie’s support group will help take up the load.
Simply said, Leslie and sister Tracie exemplify what a true advocate should be!
I know there are great many Lyme patients who are extremely thankful to these sisters, and who would be far worse off without having had their assistance.
Leslie will be sorely missed - not only by patients she’s aided, but by all who know and love her.