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Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod
Osterville cyclist rebounds from Lyme
By Cynthia McCormick,
September 17, 2013
For two years, Lyme disease kept Amy Doherty of Osterville from participating in one of her favorite charity events, The Last Gasp bike ride from Sandwich to Provincetown.
But thanks to proper diagnosis and treatment, the 48-year-old financial adviser not only took part in Sunday's event — she was the fastest female finisher.
"It was an emotional finish," said Doherty, who bicycled 62 miles in about two hours and 41 minutes. "I didn't expect to be that strong, coming back for the first time."
About 360 bicyclists took part in the annual event, which is expected to top last year's $500,000 raised for a variety of local charities, according to Leslie Estep of Cape Cod Charitable Funraisers, which sponsors the event.
The Last Gasp is not considered a race, but participants get their times and organizers post the names of the top three male and top three female finishers on the website.
"They get bragging rights," Estep said.
Doherty rode for the Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod team, Team Tick, to raise money to educate the public about the disease transmitted by deer ticks.
In Doherty's case, Lyme disease came out of the blue, causing so much pain and fatigue that she would nap instead of riding her bike and walk instead of run. It was a new experience for Doherty, who has run two marathons and also completed an Ironman in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2008 in less than 13 hours.
Three years ago, she set a course record for women in the 2010 Last Gasp.
But a few months later, her physical fitness levels started to nose dive for no apparent reason.
Her doctor gave her a Lyme test, but it came back negative, which set off a round of visits to endocrinologists and neurologists.
This was the most frustrating part of her illness, Doherty said, "being sent to doctor after doctor," none of whom could pinpoint what was wrong.
Based on her symptoms, a family friend convinced Doherty to go to a physician who diagnoses Lyme based on clinical evidence and was willing to prescribe antibiotics even without a positive laboratory test.
Because there is a controversy in the medical community about how to treat later stages of Lyme disease, Doherty didn't want to name the physician who treated her.
But she said the antibiotics worked. She started feeling better and added vitamins and immune boosters as a patient of the Rothfeld Center in Plymouth, after another round of testing showed she had Lyme and bartonella, a type of bacterial infection.
Now, she feels like herself, she said, although she sometimes gets "flares" when her symptoms reactivate.
Ron Gangemi of Mashpee, founder of Lyme Awareness of Cape Cod and the group's team leader for The Last Gasp, said Doherty's top finish was an inspiration.
"She was very sick. She fought to get back. She really worked so hard," said Gangemi.
"It's a happy story," Gangemi said about Doherty's triumph. "We need some of those."