The Family


In the fall of 2001, Ari and Imani (Dannie) became very ill. This caused them to be unable to attend school, due to tremendous pain and discomfort. Subsequent to a flood caused by a pipe burst in their San Carlos, California, home, toxic mold growth was discovered, to which their illness was attributed. This necessitated that they move out of their home into a hotel, demolish a portion of the house, and rebuild. Due to the mold and water damage, nearly all of their possessions had to be destroyed. All the while the children remained very ill, seeing specialist after specialist, and living out of a hotel. Kathleen worked to maintain her employment as a single parent, while caring for her sick children.

Over the next few years, because of the children’s mysterious illness, Kathleen had to quit her job as an executive director of a nonprofit agency in San Mateo County, sell her house, and deplete the children’s educational savings to care for her children and pay for the extensive medical expenses, which cost $20,000-45,000 per year.
Imani (Dannie) and Ari lost their school community, friends, sports, home and neighborhood, due to the illness. Although many alternatives were explored in the hope of retaining the most “normal” life possible, both children have been home schooled, as their health has not allowed them to keep even a partial school schedule.

In May 2005, they were diagnosed with Lyme disease in addition to the toxic mold exposure, and began treatment. It is believed that they had Lyme disease before the mold and that the assault of the mold exposure further compromised their immune systems, causing a dramatic and rapid worsening of their health. The hope is that with treatment, they will gradually improve and be able to more fully engage in life. Their medical care continues to be costly—much of which is out of pocket—but essential.
Kathleen returned to work in 2004-2006, experienced another period of unemployment due to her position being eliminated, and again returned to work in 2007. She currently holds two jobs (one in a hospital managing a social services department, and a private psychotherapy practice) in order to meet the financial needs of her children and their medical expenses, despite her desire to be home directly caring for them.

This single mother has been fighting for years to find the best medical treatment, both traditional and non-traditional, to secure her children’s education despite their inability to attend school through middle and high school~ to find ways for them to experience a bit of their childhood and adolescence and to emerge healthier and able to LIVE more fully in their early adulthood.

  1. Dearest Kate, I saw the piece on ABC Beyond The Headlines: Lyme Disease. My heart truly goes out to you and your children. My entire family of 6 has been battling chronic Lyme and coinfections for the past 6 years. I shared this piece on my new blog. I will be praying for you and your children.


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