"LymeLight," an inspirational Lyme Disease awareness film centered on professional freeskier Angeli VanLaanen and her battle with the complicated, debilating disease, was recently released for free online by Neu Productions. We reached out to Angeli for her insight into the film, the biggest obstacles faced while filming, the level of Lyme awareness she hopes to achieve, and how she is currently doing with the disease.
Check out our interview with Angeli below, and watch "LymeLight" in it's entirety above.
What excites you most about the release of "LymeLight"?
The making of "LymeLight" was in part funded by 150 people who donated during a Kickstarter fundraiser we held last May. The most exciting aspect of releasing "LymeLight" is sharing the final product with everyone involved in funding this film. I am forever grateful for their support in making "LymeLight" happen!
What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating this film?
The most challenging yet rewarding part of creating a documentary film on my battle with Lyme Disease has been processing the emotions that built up over 14 years of misdiagnosis. "LymeLight" is an authentic and raw account of what I went through before and after my diagnosis in 2009.
What is your inspiration behind "LymeLight" and what do you hope to accomplish with the film?
My inspiration for "LymeLight" came from my personal experience battling and overcoming Lyme Disease. When I was diagnosed in November of 2009, I struggled to find a hopeful outlook on my diagnosis. I searched high and low for a Lyme treatment success story to look up to, but only found horror stories and a grim reality for people battling Lyme Disease. I looked for support from my family and close friends, but found their lack of understanding of Lyme Disease very isolating. When you have an illness that manifests as both physical symptoms and mental/emotional symptoms, it is challenging for someone who has not experienced a neurological condition themselves, to fully understand the impact. Hearing that I never looked sick from friends, is a testament to how invisible this disease can be.
I have many goals for "LymeLight", all of which fall under the category Lyme awareness. My family and friends often felt lost in trying to help me. Navigating your way through illness is tough for both the patient and their support system. One of my goals in creating "LymeLight" is to reach out to the people battling Lyme Disease and their support systems. With understanding comes compassion and compassion inspires personal strength. I want to inspire people to be strong through hard times.
I am motivated by preventative action! I went years clueless to the cause of my illness. For fourteen years I had doctors stumped! Through education, "LymeLight" will impact those not yet diagnosed. I found my diagnosis because of my Aunt Jenny. She saw a documentary film on Lyme, "Under Our Skin," and recognized the symptoms in my health struggles. I asked my doctor to be tested for Lyme Disease and two weeks later, I was diagnosed. That documentary changed my life. I want to make that same impact on the lives of others.
My goal is to bring Lyme Disease prevention through Lyme awareness. I plan to take LymeLight on a tour to talk to people, mainly schools about Lyme Disease. By teaching kids and their parents proper tick extraction and follow up protocols, we are empowering them to catch Lyme Disease early. With exciting and beautiful imagery balancing out the struggle in "LymeLight," this film will be relatable and appropriate for all ages.
You've been living with Lyme for over 15 years, what is your current state with the disease?
I am happy to report, I'm in remission. And I'm ecstatic! Being in remission is the best case scenario for someone with Lyme Disease. There is no technique in the medical field reliable enough to test if you have eradicated the Lyme bacteria completely. Therefore, doctors use clinical diagnosis to determine your progress. When you are symptom free, is when you are in remission. With there being no guarantee of a cure, it's easy to doubt your recovery with the "what ifs" looming. This is one of the harshest realities about having Lyme Disease. I am still working to regain my physical confidence. My outlook is, with a healthy and active lifestyle I will support my body in remaining in remission.
Check out more about Angeli and "LymeLight" here.