It is with a humbled, heavy heart that I'm creating this campaign and reaching out to all of you today asking for your help! We are trying to raise funds to care for the current medical needs for Taunia, my friend, my daughter in law, the amazing mother of my grandchildren, and the love of my son's life.
Fighting the Unknown
Taunia and her two children ages 6 and 9 are chronically ill. It all began when Taunia started to lose feeling and sensation in her legs while driving home from work in July of 2015. After an extremely difficult six months of ER visits and appointments with more than forty different specialists, there was little hope in site for a diagnosis. Following a tissue biopsy of her thigh and calf, Taunia was diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy. But there was no definite reason for the cause or for the worsening neuropathy and her lengthy list of symptoms.
After countless other doctor visits, Taunia was finally given a diagnosis: Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease and co-infections Babesosis, Bartonella Henselae, and Mycoplasma.
Diagnosis with Uncertain Prognosis
As you can imagine we were all excited and relieved to have a diagnosis, to get a plan, and to start treatment. However, this was before we knew anything about Lyme disease, the difficulty treating it, the controversy surrounding it, and the impossible expenses from trying to cure an illness that's almost entirely excluded from coverage by medical insurance providers.
The disease attacks multiple systems with symptoms including:
--Chronic neuropathy and paresthesia – a constant tingling, muscle vibrations, and pain throughout the entire body and face
--Decreased sensation/numbness in extremities making it more difficult to walk, drive, and perform activities of daily living
--Difficulty with mental acuity, focusing on tasks, with reduced short-term memory
--Chronic headaches and migraines
--Muscle fasciculation's on entire body and face.
--Painful jaw, making it painful to eat, smile, talk
--Bells Palsy Symptoms-facial drooping and numbness
--Excruciating constant neuropathic pain in muscles
--Hand tremors and myoclonus body jerks
--Daily fatigue and an all over body weakness
--Dizziness and regular challenges with equilibrium
--Painful and weak muscles, tendons, and joints etc etc...
While every effort has been made to combat symptoms, the realities facing Taunia and her family have resulted in a significant reduction in ability to work and live life as it had once been enjoyed. Each day is a struggle to be the mom she is dedicated to being. It's become hard just to get out of bed each morning and try to fight her way through the day!
Family Diagnosis: An epidemic in the home
Shortly after Taunia received her own diagnosis she slowly began noticing some similarities between her symptoms and the medical issues and symptoms her children were having. Taunia, who had begun her own treatment for Lyme Disease, scheduled an apt with her Lyme-literate physician in Seattle to have the kids tested. Both children were also diagnosed with Lyme disease and its significant co-infections Babesiosis and Bartonella Henselae. This news was devastating for the entire family, especially Taunia. Knowing how sick she was made it even more terrifying that the children had the same infection and could potentially get to the same awful debilitated state. Taunia scheduled both children with a well known Pediatric Lyme specialist in Connecticut where they know more about Lyme Disease. She wanted to ensure that the kids were treated and medicated appropriately. Both children are still on an antibiotic regimen of their own and despite some vast improvements during spring and summer their Lyme disease symptoms unfortunately flared up over the fall and winter of 2018. The family holds on to hope and has faith that the children will soon improve again.
(Photo of Taunia & her children before Lyme disease)
Treating the Current State
After two years in treatment, with little-to-no improvement, we sent Taunia to the East coast to see a preeminent Lyme disease specialist hopeful that a change of course would prove beneficial. It was there that her MD informed her that it was time to switch from oral antibiotics to intravenous antibiotics. She was told that she could expect to have a central line surgically implanted in her chest as soon as possible then plan to be on IV antibiotic infusions for 6-8 months (possibly longer) in order to decrease the overwhelming bacterial load in her body. This treatment protocol requires her to travel back east every 4-8 weeks for 6-8 months at $4,000-$7,000 a visit (not including travel expenses).
Anticipating Next Steps
Following her IV infusions the doctor agreed that stem cell therapy would be an appropriate next step to repair the damage done to Taunia's body from the disease. We had already been researching stem cell clinics and their treatment options for patients with neuropathy and Lyme Disease for the past year so this came as no surprise to our family. Although there are various stem cell methods available, a clinic in Germany that specializes in Lyme Disease treatment stands out above all others with the greatest likelihood of recovery. There, using Taunia's own blood, doctors would harvest her healthy stem cells, modulate her immune system, kill any remaining bacteria, parasites, or pathogens, detox her body from other bio-toxins, and then re-introduce healthy stem cells back into Taunia's body. This intensive 4-week treatment protocol is a minimum of $25,000 US (again not including travel expenses or accommodations). This extensive protocol gives her a fighting chance of returning to a normal life.
Running on Empty
Taunia is the most symptomatic in her family at this point and has failed to respond to the oral antibiotics in any way – we are very early in the IV antibiotic treatment, hopeful, but is still too early to tell. Regardless of treatment, Taunia’s Lyme disease symptoms have only been progressing and she continues get worse. Her symptoms have become more constant, more painful, and more difficult to manage. We must try to find a way to stop the progression of this disease for Taunia and repair the damage so she can care for her two children.
Unfortunately, none of this is covered by medical insurance which is why we are here asking for your immediate assistance. The McDonald family desperately needs YOUR HELP to allow Taunia to receive the appropriate medical care this year to help her get better.
As you can imagine it has been a hard few years for the McDonald family! Between doctor visits for Taunia on the West Coast and now for her and the kids apts on the East Coast, as well as the medications and supplements for all three of them, the financial burden has become devastating. Despite her husband (my son) Bryce working tirelessly 7am-11pm daily at two different jobs, 7 days a week, to care for his family, the funds have run out!
We are hopeful that your compassion and help will open doors that otherwise couldn't be afforded by our family. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to read our story, to donate if possible, to share this page on all of your social media outlets, and if you are inclined to do so to please say a prayer for Taunia and her two young children! Please know that ALL donations, no matter how great or small will be immensely appreciated and be put towards medical care and medical care alone!
Lastly, when you have some time, please take a moment to educate yourself and others about Lyme disease! The more we know, the better our chances are to reduce the number of infections per year. Thank you for your time, your compassion, your kindness, your generosity, and your prayers!
"Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Well, and God Bless!"
For more information on Taunia & the McDonald's Journey visit:
For more information on Lyme disease please visit:
- Candace McDonakd
- Kathy & Chris Robertson
- Kathy Brandal
Organizer and beneficiary
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