In my Lyme disease advocacy work, I have had the good fortune of connecting with a handful of compassionate politicians who are willing to stand up for the thousands of Lyme sufferers marginalized by the medical system and fight nobly for this cause.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Brad Schwartz, a New York State political candidate who is running as the Democratic challenger for the most highly contested state Senate seat in New York called District 7, “the Key to Albany,” because it could single-handedly decide whether Democrats win full-party control of the NY state government.
I reached out to Brad for one reason––to learn about his stance on chronic Lyme disease. Knowing that he was struck with a debilitating case of this illness which left him bedridden for years, I wanted to hear from him first-hand how he viewed the devastating emotional, physical and financial toll that living with this condition has on patients and their families.
Just as I have been a co-navigator on this medical odyssey with my adult son, I learned that Brad’s mother was by his side throughout his illness, helping him to navigate the years of medical challenges that befell him. Brad battled Lyme for almost a decade before it was properly diagnosed, pushing himself through the illness to graduate college, earn a Master’s degree and maintain a full-time career. However, his body eventually collapsed and the damage to his system had become extensively evident. It was only then that he was finally granted a proper diagnosis.
Afterward, Brad spent six devastating years rotating through grueling treatments, exorbitant medical costs, and multitude of other challenges that come from being disabled by illness -– especially one as poorly and uniquely misunderstood as Lyme. At one point, Brad almost lost his life to sepsis. So, he has personally experienced all that is wrong with the medical system especially as it pertains to Lyme Disease.
Upon his recovery, Brad became determined or as he describes, “obligated to stand up for those who are maligned, mistreated or victimized by the state of healthcare.” He is one of a small but growing number of political influencers who truly ‘gets it’. He gets the suffering. He gets the marginalization and discrimination. He gets the medical denial and abandonment. He gets the medical corruption that has taken place.
Brad is a grassroots candidate driven by real life experiences which shaped his will to fight for causes he represents, including affordable and accessible health care.
He explains, “A bill to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers has already passed the Democratic-led NYS Assembly with the backing of our Governor. Yet the bill’s passage is obstructed by NY state Senate Republicans. However, with 31 state Senate co-sponsors, the bill only needs one (1) more vote to pass. So, I hope to spin the silver-lining of my battle with Lyme Disease into that final vote!”
This is a hero’s journey.
Brad clearly has razor sharp intelligence, and fearless, ‘fire-breathing’ drive and determination. We need Brad in Lymeland. In turn, Brad needs our support to win this critical seat.
Despite statistics on Lyme cases being widely flawed, New York has the 2nd largest population of “reported” Lyme patients among U.S. States and Canadian Territories. So, what happens in N.Y. Lymeland ultimately affects US ALL, no matter where we reside. This is, after all, a global medical travesty. And so, we must all band together to achieve the medical and political breakthroughs we need and not allow this to be anything but a fight for human rights, no matter what our political leanings.
Brad happens to be a Democrat who enjoys strong Party support to run for his seat. Upon launching his campaign website in October, he immediately used the platform to bring awareness to his plight with Lyme and how it compelled him to champion greater rights for all patients. That very same week, Republicans in the state Senate reacted to Brad’s candidacy by appointing his political opponent Sen. Elaine Phillips, to the chamber’s “non-active” Lyme Disease Task Force. As Brad describes, “It was a desperately low and transparent ploy by my adversaries to try to seize authority on issues they fear give me personal and powerful credibility to debate health care.”
What upset Brad most was not that anybody would buy into their charade. Rather, it was the fact of witnessing once again, how shamelessly willing politicians were to exploit the Lyme community; a patient population continuously harmed by the very institutions of authority meant to protect them most. Enough is enough!
Therefore, if we can all come together in an act of solidarity with Brad, we can help him mobilize a real army of Lyme patients and families across the district, state and the country in effort to make sure HE is the one appointed to the Lyme Task Force.
Brad’s win will be the Lyme community's win. But to get to a ‘win’, fundraising is key ––particularly fundraising at the grassroots level to prove that Brad has an army of support.
In short, a donation of any amount (even as little as $5) from as many Lyme sufferers as possible would help get Brad elected. He will keep track of every Lyme patient and family member who makes a contribution. And because U.S. political campaigns are permitted to reallocate or give funds to not-for-profit organizations, he will reinvest funds back to the Lyme community.
Imagine the power of this campaign if we can all get behind him in this way.
And as Brad explains, “If I do win this seat, and my election yields Democrats the Senate Majority in New York State, I could be a natural pick to Chair the Senate’s Lyme Disease Awareness Task Force -– since the party in control chooses a member of their own. Given my Lyme background, if I also demonstrate from the campaign that I already have the backing of an army of supporters, I could leverage that role within the Task Force to secure greater funding and pass much needed initiatives.”
“If I am elected, my Party would likely control the NYS government at that point. So I could be well-positioned to draft, introduce and pass Lyme-related legislation.”
Imagine! A US politician who actually cares about and has the power to do something concrete for those suffering with chronic Lyme disease.
Now, wouldn’t that be something.
To donate to Brad’s campaign, you must be a U.S. permanent resident or citizen. If eligible click or visit: www.schwartz4senate.com/lyme-link. Please share this specific link with other Lyme patients, their families and allies since it will allow Brad to keep track of all contributions from the Lyme community.
If you would like more info about Brad’s campaign visit: Schwartz4Senate.com
Lori Dennis, MA, RP is a Registered Psychotherapist and the author of LYME MADNESS, named #1 NEW RELEASE in Immune System Health on Amazon.