During the past week, bright green bows have started to appear throughout Mashpee. From the trees alongside the rotary to the entrance of the high school, they are everywhere—and for a good cause. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and the sea of green ribbons is intended to raise consciousness of the epidemic status of the debilitating tick-borne disease.
In addition to the green bow campaign, Mashpee will be commemorating Lyme Disease Awareness Month with perhaps the most significant event in the country for those afflicted with the illness.
An open house will be held Saturday, May 10, from noon to 5 PM at the site of what is believed to be the nation’s first health and wellness center dedicated to treating the disease.
The center, sponsored by Lyme Disease Awareness of Cape Cod (LACC), will be named the Entire Health and Wellness Center, and is at Trinity Place on Route 28 in Mashpee.
According to Ronald F. Gangemi, the founder of LACC and a Lyme disease sufferer himself, more than 500 people are expected to attend the open house, including Congressman William R. Keating and Senator Daniel A. Wolf (D-Cape and Islands).
Last week, during a tour of the facility, which remains under construction, Mr. Gangemi said that the center will offer “every piece of the puzzle” for treating patients with chronic Lyme disease. When fully operational this fall, the center will have medical doctors and nurse practitioners on staff, and offer a wide array of holistic treatment options and educational programs.
“We are going to teach people how to live with Lyme disease through programs focusing on energy healing, psychology, nutrition, exercise, yoga, physical therapy, and traditional Eastern medicine techniques,” Mr. Gangemi said, adding that there will even be an infrared sauna installed, which will aid patients in removing the Lyme bacterial toxins from their bodies.
There will also be support groups for families who have members afflicted with the disease, which often leads to depression.
“The family dynamics of Lyme disease are very important. We need to make sure family members realize that this is a real illness and support is crucial. I see a lot of people with Lyme whose minds are not in the right place,” Mr. Gangemi said.
The medical, research, and academic communities continue to debate whether chronic Lyme disease even exists, and, if it does, how it should be treated.
Mr. Gangemi is self-funding the initial development of the center, including the purchase of the large office condominium where the center is located. Mr. Gangemi’s wife, Pamela, has suffered from chronic Lyme disease for nearly a decade, and in 2007 Mr. Gangemi sold his business—Ron’s Excavation in Mashpee—to take care of her.
In addition to green bows—volunteers at the center have made 10,000 for distribution—Saturday’s event will feature entertainment, refreshments, and pizza courtesy of Pizza Barbone in Hyannis.