“Real Housewives” Star Yolanda Foster Says Lyme Disease Led to “Some of the Darkest Days of My Life”

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Honored at Lyme Research Alliance Gala, Foster said in the months it took to be properly diagnosed she went from being a "tough cookie" to “a shell of the woman I used to be.”

Yolanda Foster with Tommy and Dee Hilfiger at Lyme Research Alliance "Time for Lyme" Gala

We don't have proper diagnostic testing and there is no defined treatment protocol or cure for someone with the disease.

Yolanda Foster, one of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” brought herself to tears Saturday night during a moving and powerful speech at Lyme Research Alliance’s (LRA) “Time for Lyme” Gala, as she eloquently recounted how Lyme disease led her to “some of the darkest days of my life.”

Foster told the audience at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich, where she received LRA’s Star Light Award, that Lyme disease had so severely affected her before she was finally diagnosed and treated, that she went from being “the tough cookie that I am” to “a shell of the woman I used to be.”

“I was unable to read, process information, write, or do anything as simple as watch TV. I honestly stared at the ceiling for so many months that I still remember every light bulb in it,” the former Dutch model told 550 guests at the event, which raised close to $1 million with donations still coming in. Fighting back tears, Foster said she only found the strength to “fight this lonely battle” for her children, and her husband, Grammy Award-winning music producer David Foster.

Months after extensive and debilitating treatments, and still without a clean bill of health, Foster says she now feels a responsibility to “represent all my fellow Lymies.” She said: “We must speak up for those who cannot be heard. We must restore hope for those who have given up.”

Dressed in a stunning blue lace dress, Foster was greeted with prolonged applause when she said that although Americans live in an “extraordinary country with the best doctors in the world...the truth is we don’t have proper diagnostic testing for Lyme, and there is no defined treatment protocol or cure for someone with the disease.”

She urged the crowd—which included Corporate Chairs Craig and Deborah Cogut, Honorary Event Chairs Tommy Hilfiger, Thalia and Tommy Mottola, Donna deVarona, and Emcee Ira Joe Fisher—to support LRA’s efforts to fund Lyme and other tick-borne research initiatives. “Be part of making a difference in the world,” she said.

Prior to Foster receiving her award, the collaborative team of Drs. Steven Schutzer, MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Mark Eshoo, Ph.D., director of new technology at Ibis, a subsidiary of Abbott, received the Lauren F. Brooks Hope Award for their ongoing and unfaltering commitment to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases research.

In addition to the Gala, Saturday morning LRA hosted its fourth annual closed-door Lyme Research Symposium for about 20 eminent members of the scientific community who are either current LRA grant recipients of members of LRA’s newly-expanded Scientific Advisory Board.

Diane Blanchard, LRA’s co-president, told the Gala audience that LRA conducts the peer-to-peer scientific forum for researchers to “share their ideas, their research and create new opportunities to work together.”

“Our eyes have always been on the prize and we are, and will always be, committed to a cure,” Blanchard said.     

Presenting sponsors for the Gala were Craig and Deborah Cogut, Mark and Brett Kristoff, and the Hilfiger family. Other sponsors included Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Pepe Auto Group, Starwood Capital Group, BNY Mellon Capital Markets, The Estee Lauder Companies, Moffly Media-Greenwich Magazine, and Greenwich Hospital.

LRA’s Gala is its largest fundraiser of the year and proceeds fund important medical research projects. LRA is the leading private funding organization for cutting-edge research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by universities and major medical institutions around the U.S. In 2007, LRA partnered with Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and the Lyme Disease Association to endow the nation’s first Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center at Columbia.
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Lyme Research Alliance, formerly Time for Lyme, is a Connecticut-based, national non-profit that funds cutting-edge research into Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. For more information go to http://www.lymeresearchalliance.org.

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Peter Wild

Rona Cherry
Rona Cherry Associates
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