rebelling against low expectations

LymeLight: The Story of Olympic Athlete Angeli VanLaanen and Her Battle with Lyme Disease


Some of you know that Ana Harris (Brett’s wife) is very sick with Lyme Disease, a nasty infection spread by ticks that can get very serious if misdiagnosed or mistreated. Unfortunately, many Americans (including doctors) are woefully uneducated about Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, even as new cases continue to be reported at record levels.

This inspiring, 30-minute documentary about 2014 Winter Olympics athlete Angeli VanLaanen will give you a good idea of what Ana and thousands of others Americans are dealing with — as well as educating you about an emerging epidemic that may touch your life or the lives of people you love.

Watch the video above, check out the video description below, and leave us a comment when you’re done. Also, don’t forget to cheer Angeli on when she competes at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Thursday, February 20, in Women’s Halfpipe Skiing.

Has your life been touched by Lyme Disease?
Share your experience in the comment section.

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Video Description from the Creators of LymeLight:

LymeLight is a 30 minute documentary film based on Angeli VanLaanen’s battle with Lyme Disease. Angeli, now 27 years old, started showing Lyme symptoms at the tender age of 10.

After developing a chronic sinus infection, fainting spells, dyslexia and fatigue, Angeli faced over a decade of misdiagnoses. Through the years, her symptoms fluctuated and progressed into a debilitating chronic illness. In the summer of 2009 VanLaanen was sleeping for multiple days at a time and experiencing crippling body pain.

Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread by the bite of an infected Black Legged Tick (commonly known as a Deer Tick). Many children and adults cannot recall a bite because young Deer Ticks can be as small as a poppyseed.

If caught promptly, Lyme Disease can be treated in a matter of weeks. Angeli’s story of misdiagnosis is all too common due to the lack of knowledge in our society and in the medical community.

After her diagnosis in November 2009, VanLaanen was forced to put her competitive halfpipe career on hold at the peak of her career.

“It’s the lowest I’ve ever felt,” Angeli says. “With no guarantee that treatment would relieve my symptoms, I had very little to hold on to.”

Motivated by her struggle, Angeli linked up with Director John Roderick of Neu Productions in November of 2011 to make an awareness piece sharing a raw account of her experience.

“Our goal with LymeLight is to educate people about Lyme Disease, where it comes from, what the symptoms are and the challenges people face reclaiming their health,” says Roderick.

After taking 3 years off from halfpipe for Lyme treatment, Angeli returned to competition and placed 6th at the FIS World Championships and is ranked 9th in the world on the AFP points list for the 2012-2013 season.

[Update: On January 18, 2014, Angeli qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She will compete in halfpipe skiing on Thursday, February 20, 2014.]

After the Olympics, Angeli plans to tour LymeLight in schools around the country as a part of an awareness program she has created. “When I was young I just flicked ticks off of me.” Angeli recalls “I didn’t know to tell my mom or doctor.”

With the help of the LymeLight Foundation, a nonprofit VanLaanen is a spokesperson for, she will educate kids about Lyme Disease prevention and overcoming hard times.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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      • Yes, he has. It’s actually been dormant for a while and is just coming back. But he’s been seeing the doctor for it. I hope your wife find effective treatment soon.

        • Hi Leah,
          What exactly do you mean by dormant? Is it possible to be bitten by a tick and not have any symptoms until years later? I ask this because In was bitten by a tick about 8 years ago, and I have no symptoms, but I want to be sure nothing unexpected comes up. Thanks and God bless you!
          – Trent

  • So excited to see this posted!! Ana, I am so sorry that you are going through this now, but I’m glad for you for that you have a diagnosis under your belt. I struggled with Lyme Disease for a year (nothing compared to the length of time some people go, I know) before finally seeing a doctor who would agree to treat me. Within weeks of taking the medication he prescribed, the crippling symptoms started to let up.
    The way that we found Dr.Donta was definitely a miracle; a family friend heard him on an AM talk show while making a late night drive home. He called us to let us know about it, and my dad became the last caller of the night into the station to talk with the Dr. about my situation. A week or so later we were in Massachusetts being taken seriously by someone who truly knew what to do to make me better. It was a long journey of treatment with definite ups and downs, but today I have been medication AND symptom free for around 5 months. Don’t worry Ana (or Brett).. it will get better, and one day you will be able to look back on this time as one of the most valuable journeys of your life. Absolutely painful, but we all know that beauty comes from ashes 🙂 Praying for you on a daily basis and thankful for the inspiration you all are!!

    “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” – Job 23:10

    • Thanks so much, Lauren! That’s an amazing story. So glad to hear that you have been symptom free for five months!

      We can certainly see God bringing beauty from the ashes of this journey. It’s amazing how He uses suffering to work in our lives and teach us lessons we could never have learned otherwise.

      Thanks for your prayers!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this!! Five out of six people in my family were diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I will be praying for both Brett and Ana. It is a serious disease that most people have no idea about. I know firsthand how hard, frustrating, and painful it can be. A verse that encouraged both my momma (who went undiagnosed for over two years) and myself was 2 Corinthians 4:7-10: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

  • This scares me. When I was younger, (about 8 years ago) I was bitten by a tick and I just ticked it off. But there have been no symptoms, so I am grateful that this close encounter wasn’t the cause of Lyme Disease. I am grateful to God for this. Yes, I will pray for the healing of Anna as well. God bless you!
    – Trent

  • I have Lyme; I was Dx’d 15-18 years after I was wrongly told I had Mono, with a negative Mono test. The said it had to be Mono because that’s what fit my symptoms at the time.
    I’m married with 3 kids; 15,13 & 11. I don’t feel I’ve really been able to be the Mom I want to be.

  • So glad a family member sent me this story. I just watched the video and can totally relate to the story. I’ve been battling Lyme for years now and was finally diagnosed in Oct 2012 after multiple hospitalizations and 2 small strokes. I was sent home to die with no answers when my doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I’ve been on antibiotics for 2 years now so feel like the point in the film where she was feeling defeated by the handfuls of pills she had to take daily. I am so thankful for my Lyme doctor as we try to get me well again and found this film to be an inspiration. Wish there was more we could do to get the medical community up to speed. I had a terrible time finding someone to help me! I feel so badly for those who are also suffering from Lyme who don’t have a diagnosis yet and/or can’t find anyone to help them. Keep spreading the word! We’ll get there eventually!
    ~ Myndi

  • I have had Lyme for 12 years now. I am currently studying natural medicine to hopefully be able to treat those suffering with Lymes. Check out my blog SunRae Wellness. My full story is written and pictures are included. Maybe some of you can relate.

rebelling against low expectations

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