Guest // Alex and Wendy Murray

Host // Mary Coyle, DIHom

widening circle jacketPolly Murray was the first person to focus on what came to be known as Lyme disease. She and her husband were raising their four children in beautiful Lyme, Connecticut in 1965 when something started making her sick. When it spread to her family (and neighbors), she embarked on a 20 year medical journey to figure out what was wrong. Doctors had no answers and worse, exhibited hostility, rejection, and no sense of urgency to help her family.

Polly persevered. She kept meticulous records of her family’s rashes, flu-like illnesses, swollen knees, pain, and other symptoms. Her attention to detail and investigative work led to the 1982 discovery of the spirochete (corkscrew-shaped bacterium) borrelia burgdorferi by Willy Burgdorfer, MD, PhD. Her story is riveting and inspiring. There are parallels with modern day chronic disorders (autism comes to mind) and offers hope to parents engaged in a similar battle for recognition and resources towards prevention, treatment, and a cure.

When Polly’s children ask her which of her life accomplishments bring her the most pride, her career as a fine art painter or discovering Lyme Disease, she always says: “Lyme Disease.” Two of Polly Murray’s children, Alex and Wendy, will participate in the show. Alex Murray works in the wine trade as a distributor and educator. He was first stricken with Lyme Disease in 1974 as a senior in high school, before the disease had been identified. He was captain of the varsity soccer team and hobbled around with swollen joints during the final game of his career. The disease caused massive swelling and joint dislocation in his left knee, and sidelined his hopes playing soccer in college. Now 40 years later, Alex still suffers from pain in his left knee. Wendy Murray is an education editor living in New Jersey. Their family’s story was profiled in the Boston Globe in 2013 (part 1 and part 2).

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