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Lyme Disease Advocate & Entrepreneur
Ally Hilfiger is an author, artist, designer and the daughter of fashion mogul and entrepreneur Tommy Hilfiger. She chronicled her lifelong battle with Lyme disease in her moving memoir, Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole my Childhood, Made Me Crazy and Almost Killed Me, considered to be one of the most frank and courageous accounts of the disease. Read More >
Hilfiger’s battle with chronic Lyme Disease began as a child and went undiagnosed for more than a decade. She remembers her mother removing a black tick when she was seven years old. Years of chronic fatigue, joint pain, night sweats, memory loss, depression and anxiety followed. So did a string of misdiagnoses, as top medical experts claimed her symptoms were everything from rheumatoid arthritis to fibromyalgia.
While only in high school, Hilfiger sold MTV on the idea for the reality show Rich Girls. But while cameras chronicled a glamorous lifestyle traveling around the world, she was secretly suffering in pain and silence. “I zipped my lips because I didn’t want to come across as a complainer,” she says. As her health deteriorated, Hilfiger self-medicated to ease the physical and emotional pain. Following a public breakdown, her family thought Hilfiger needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Finally, at the age of 18, she was correctly diagnosed with Lyme and began her journey to recovery.
Now an active advocate for Lyme disease awareness and education, Hilfiger has become a champion of empowerment as both a patient and a woman and a mentor and resource for others who are dealing with Lyme. She sits on the board of Project Lyme, a global advocacy organization focused on prevention and early detection, and the Global Lyme Alliance. In addition to creating and starring in the docu-series Rich Girls for MTV, she designed and spearheaded the women’s clothing line NAHM that was featured in the documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s.
Hilfiger hopes that by sharing her own ordeal, she can encourage others to trust their own instincts and persevere through obstacles. In doing so, she emphasizes the critical importance of having a mental, emotional and spiritual connection to recovery and healing, including stress management, meditation, clean eating and nutrition. She delivers talks that both educate and inspire. Ally recounts her experience battling misdiagnosis and a debilitating tormentor with a humor and power that can inspire us all. She gives a voice to others who are struggling and helps others (along with their families and healthcare providers) navigate their own journeys to healing, health and most of all, learning to love yourself. Read Less ^
Lyme Disease Story: Healing With Integrative Medicine After landing in a Psych Ward
Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me
Overcoming Lyme Disease
According to the CDC, more than 300,000 people a year are diagnosed with Lyme disease. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s also six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDs, making Lyme the fastest growing autoimmune disease in the U.S., often afflicting children. Drawing from her celebrated book, Bite Me, and her 27-year battle with chronic Lyme disease, Ally chronicles her journey from being bitten as a child to suffering chronic fatigue and symptoms that were not correctly diagnosed until she was 18 years old. Providing inspiration, hope and healing for those who have been diagnosed and an urgent message to raise awareness and empathy in the health care community, Ally’s story informs, uplifts and puts a relatable connection on this debilitating and often misunderstood disease.
For more than a decade, Ally Hilfiger suffered from undiagnosed chronic Lyme disease. Top medical experts claimed her symptoms were everything from rheumatoid arthritis to fibromyalgia. Still, she was afraid to challenge them for fear of being labeled a complainer. In this highly motivating talk, Ally discusses her journey to both empowerment and health, providing real tools that anyone can use to get through a difficult health challenge or diagnosis. She also underscores the need for healthcare providers to build relationships with patients and their families as the key to better health outcomes. By “connecting to the heart, we can break down barriers through compassion and empathy.
As women, all of us are overcoming something in our own lives. It could be facing an illness or other health challenges, overcoming fears that hold us back at work, or facing a personal or professional failure. In her lifetime, Ally Hilfiger pitched a tv show at age 16, spearheaded a clothing line, overcame substance abuse and battled chronic Lyme disease in a continuous cycle of renewal, repair and reinvention and renewal. In this highly inspirational talk, Ally shares how a positive mindset always lets her visualize the light at the end of the tunnel — and what women can do to embark on their own journey to health and happiness.
For Ally Hilfiger, finally receiving treatment after her life was ravaged by years of undiagnosed Lyme disease was just the beginning of a larger journey to physical, mental and spiritual health. Shifting her attitude was key to recovery, as was spirituality (in the form of spending time in nature and meditating.) In her battle back, Ally developed a toolkit of tactics, from creating a strong support network, to sleep, diet, and lowering stress. Now an evangelist for healthy living, she shares her strategies for mind/body wellness to help people find their own light, create their own joy, and harness the power of positivity.
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