Chronic Lyme Disease, Misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Jo-Ann’s Lyme Disease Story Comes To An End


In Memory of Jo-Ann Colburn, a true Lyme Warrior!

Jo-Ann’s Chronic Lyme disease fight comes to a tragic end

It is with great sadness that I (Jo-Ann’s husband) must tell you that Jo-Ann’s health worsened and within the last couple of weeks she suddenly passed away. We are heartbroken but comforted in knowing that she is no longer suffering.

We are picking up the pieces and struggling to cope with her loss; she was a fighter to the end and never once considered defeat, so neither did we.

I will likely take up where she left off as we both were concerned for those struggling with Lyme disease, it’s symptoms and diagnosis. To that end, I’m sure I will write more about Jo-Ann’s journey and it’s tragic and unexpected end. Unfortunately, from this point on you will get my perspective, but I will always do my best to honor her heroic battle and let her voice shine through whenever possible.

Chronic Lyme disease is often a controversial topic, as I sure many of you know. Jo-Ann was denied treatment for Lyme disease for the better part of a decade, believing in what her medical “professionals” where telling her rather than what her body was telling her. She often used the word “misdiagnosed” to describe those unfortunate lost years in proper medical treatment, but I now see that in addition, or as a better definition, perhaps the correct term should be “undiagnosed”. If not that, then certainly “untreated” is accurate.

She would have been surprised and I think a little pleased that one of the underlying diseases listed on her death certificate as causing her to die, and is now in the official records, was Chronic Lyme disease! Too many times the medical evidence, patient history and the obvious symptoms of Chronic Lyme disease were overlooked or summarily dismissed as not being something “real”, causing her, a suffering patient in need of help and healing, to experience additional real physical and mental suffering.

I will rant at another time: but I wonder as a society if we are practicing medicine or selective torture in the name ego, ignorance and profits?

For the time being, we are coping as a family with the loss of someone so dear to us, her husband, three sons and family. It is not lost on us the impact Jo-Ann had on many of you, too, here on this site, Facebook, Twitter, etc. She helped many people all around the world each week learn about Lyme disease, and I know that made her happy.

If you would like to honor Jo-Ann you can make a donation to ILADS in her memory. If you would like to support her family, please make a donation using the button below. We will use the donations for the immediate and unexpected needs to support our family and three boys, with any extra money donated to ILADS in Jo-Ann’s memory and to help in the Lyme disease research and fight.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

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13 thoughts on “Chronic Lyme Disease, Misdiagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Jo-Ann’s Lyme Disease Story Comes To An End

  1. Nicole Gayles

    I’m so sorry for your loss and the loss to the Lyme community. Your family will be kept in our prayers. RIP sweet warrior, you will be greatly missed.

  2. michelle

    Hello Eric. My name is Michelle and I’m one of the many people who were privileged to be able to call Jo-Ann friend. I met Jo-Ann towards the beginning of my trek into trying to find a diagnosis, when she was told she had RA and I was told I had lupus. Wrong on both counts at that time. I’ve since been diagnosed with another autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis, and Jo-Ann with chronic Lyme. She had urged me to get tested for Lyme, as she said she had so many of the strange symptoms that I have. I lived in Oregon up until about a year ago, and told her that there was no threat of tic-borne lyme disease. In looking into it I was wrong. I told Jo-Ann that i would get tested and plan to honor that.
    Your wife was just an amazing person, and I know this is no surprise to you 🙂 She gave support freely and lovingly, even when she was feeling really sick or down. She was so kind to me. Her advocacy efforts in the Lyme community were informative and backed with facts and a strong conviction that I’m sure helped quite a few people who would otherwise have had much a harder road coming to a diagnosis.
    I will and do miss her dearly. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

  3. Marie

    In the past I have shared her posts of misdiagnosis with family/friends I know that have an RA diagnosis. I also have Lyme and after learning so much of the symptoms began to wonder if other autoimmune syndromes were related or caused by Lyme, I did some google searches and hers was one of the first sources I found. This evening I decided to reread some of her articles and then read this and realized you just posted this hours ago:( My heart is broken for you and your family. I thank God for your beloved Jo-Ann sharing what she’s learned and caring so much to tell others. Who can know how many people’s lives she has changed for the better? My prayers are with your family tonight.

  4. Autumn Hardie

    Thank you for taking the time and effort in the midst of coping with your wife’s loss to reach out with these words. I am glad to hear that although I did not personally know Joann, she had a supportive husband and family behind her through the awful tragedy of Lyme Disease. I read accounts every day where Lyme patients do not have familial support and it is heart wrenching. It makes me so grateful for my own husband, Bill, my rock. As you go through this difficult time, I pray for God’s comfort for you and heart hugs through the especially difficult moments.

  5. Eric Post author

    Thank you, Nicole. She was lucky to have found such a strong and supportive community of Lyme Warriors!

  6. Eric Post author

    Michelle, thank you for your kind words and I wish you a speedy recovery, good health and wellness. She was so lucky to meet people like yourself and I know it gave her great comfort to know that she had helped even one person (although we both know it was way more than that!).

  7. Eric Post author

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Marie. She was a wonderful person on so many levels. While I have worked in the background with her on her Lyme disease outreach, and recognize many of the names in her online community, the outpouring of support and number of people that have contacted us to say she made a difference in their lives is amazing!

  8. Eric Post author

    Thank you, Autumn, for your kind words. Our family is simply humbled by the concern, compassion and support from her the friends she made in spreading the word about Lyme Disease.

  9. Christine

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. I have followed Jo-Ann’s blog for over a year, she has helped saved many lives, including my own. It’s so sad to loose someone so incredibly amazing, she is a hero to everyone who is fighting Lyme.

  10. karen

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t think I knew Jo-Ann but I can totally relate. Diagnosed with all kinds of things including severe mental illness and Fibromyalgia 18 years ago has left my body so damaged I can’t walk. How many more of us will die before the help comes?

    Part of the issue is we are so sick we can’t speak up a lot of the time. I fight through severe pain to Tweet, FB, and Instagram…..through blinding from the light because of the inflammation in my brain. I just don’t know what is going to happen but I am so grateful to hear that you will continue the fight for her and in that you will be helping millions of people.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers <3

  11. Mary

    Eric I am so sorry that I didn’t think to look here, on this blog, right away.

    What a beautiful tribute to such a fine woman, mother, partner, friend, advocate.
    That photo of Jo-Ann is lovely. It is how I think of her. I would just echo all of the words above, with some words to add, which I will later.

    May every possible comfort come to you and the boys.

  12. shathi

    I’ve heard about a new ultraviolet machine called the UVLRx that’s being used for Lyme patients. It uses a fiber optic thread which is inserted directly into the vein and the treatment lasts for an hour, so all the blood is treated. Has anyone tried this?

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