Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation
“Anyone that knows my story realizes that I haven’t always had an easy life,” explains Jody Hudson. “However, I have worked hard at building internal strength with endurance. Of moving forward with grace no matter what comes my way.” Jody is referring to founding the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation (AHLF), which honors the memory of her daughter. “If you stay focused on the blessings in life, you will always find gratitude in your days.”
Deemed a “medical mystery” from the time she was 10 years old, Alex Hudson battled a vast array of symptoms for 12 years. From an early age, she excelled as an athlete and was an exceptional student, yet countless health issues plagued her in unexplainable waves. It wasn’t until she was living in Southern California (having been accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles on a full-ride scholarship) in 2017 that she found a doctor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who finally suggested that she perhaps had Lyme disease (known as the great imitator).
Alex was diagnosed with not only Lyme disease, but also Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (an immunological condition which causes the body to have an allergic-like reaction to almost anything consumed), which had developed as a direct result of untreated Lyme disease. Jody and Alex set out on a research crusade to find proper treatment. Besides trying to improve her own health, Alex was on a mission to help and educate others who were also affected by these medical conditions.
“Despite the immense pain and suffering that she battled, Alex never complained and only wanted to help others.” Hoping to beat her illness and become a testimony for others, Alex fought to the end. “My daughter showed me what true courage and strength looked like as she heroically fought for her life,” recalls Jody. “When she knew that God had other plans for her, we made a pact. She told me to tell her story and carry out her wishes to help others.”
Alex lost her war against Lyme disease and Mass Cell Activation Syndrome on the 24th of March, 2018. But her passing also marked the birth of her living legacy. “I don’t want another child to ever have to be labeled a ‘medical mystery.’” And so the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation was born from this defining moment.
Jody knew that she was going to honor Alex’s legacy by becoming an advocate for the Lyme community. Her desire to dispel the misbeliefs about Lyme disease that Alex faced was the incentive for her mission to give credibility to her daughter’s pain and suffering, which is rooted in educating the medical profession and the community at large on Lyme disease.
But Jody didn’t anticipate the national platform that the AHLF would evolve to within a short period of time. “When I set out to petition for a 501c3 status, I was told that it would take up to 9+ months for approval. Imagine my surprise when thirty days later, I received an approval letter in the mail stating that AHLF had been granted non-profit status.” That was in June of 2018, a mere three months after Alex’s passing. “My accountant summed it up best by saying, ‘Sometimes the good Lord does things that there are no explanations for.’”
The Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation has made impressive strides, despite being just over a year old. “From granting our first Bluebird Scholarship to assist a Lyme patient with treatment costs, to executing our first annual fundraiser [Tea for Alex] for research, AHLF continues to gather local and national support … AHLF has been collaborating with and supporting national Lyme organizations such as: Global Lyme Alliance, Bay Area Lyme Foundation, LivLyme Foundation, LymeLight Foundation, Sam’s Spoons Foundation, Focus On Lyme, and LymeDisease.org. We support one another by attendance at galas, speaker conferences, and other important initiatives.”
There is still plenty more to accomplish. “Improved diagnostic testing, better target clinical research, clinician education, and state legislation are just a couple of focus areas for the following year,” lists Jody. “I have also started writing a book on Alex’s journey and am in a monthly writing group to keep me on track.”
The Lyme community is a very strong and supportive group, and Jody is doing her part as an advocate. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. “We host awareness events during the month of May,” and the “AHLF held an active Lyme Awareness campaign this past May.”
The first annual Tea for Alex fundraiser, which raises funds for research, was held in October of 2018. “Last year we were able to sponsor a $50k research grant with Global Lyme Alliance. That was important to me because I wanted to make sure Alex’s name was attached to research efforts.” The second annual fundraiser will be held on Sunday, October 27th, 2019 in Fresno at TorNino's—for more information about the event, visit www.alexhudsonlymefoundation.org.
Fundraising and awareness efforts are not new to Jody. As Operations Director for Catholic Charities Diocese of Fresno, being Founder of the AHLF meant working two full-time jobs this past year, which she admits “has tipped my scales unevenly. My goal for the remainder of the year is to bring some balance back into my life.”
“I need to pause and redirect my attention to my friends and loved ones who have been so supportive of me this past year.” Hitting the pause button, however, doesn’t come easy for Jody. “This has always been a tough one for me because I have a tendency to want everything yesterday. I set goals and am quick to want to check them off my list. I am learning to have more ‘pause’ moments and appreciate the processes as well as the accomplishments.”
That means allowing herself some “ME” time. “Whether it’s doing a spin or Pilates class, grabbing my Starbucks skinny vanilla latte with almond milk at 140 degrees (yes I’m that high-maintenance customer), or grabbing lunch with a girlfriend,” all those make Jody happy. “Taking a nice detox bath” and “having a ME day with my glam team” make all the difference in the world.
Faith, family, and friends are the cornerstones of Jody’s life. “My faith has always been my source of strength and substance … When I’m struggling or have hit a rough spot in the road, I dig even deeper with my faith. Spending time with God in reflection and prayer always gets me back on track.”
Yet, motherhood is what she considers her greatest source of happiness. “It has been, and will always be, my most important job here on earth. I am so proud of my 26-year-old son, who has weathered many storms to get where he is today in life. His accomplishments and success always makes my heart happy.”
Jody’s endurance can be credited to her children and faith. “After the passing of Alex, I flooded my mind with plenty of woulda, shoulda, couldas. It all came down to this: I have learned to surrender myself to His will. Alex demonstrated this so beautifully with her passing and it will forever be etched in my heart … Every day it’s Alex who guides me and gives me direction with her foundation. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet.”