A Conversation with Erin Walker, Lyme advocate, and Gwyn Prentice, founder of Helen Jon.
Lyme is an insidious disease, and Erin Walker has been contending with it since her husband, beloved PGA golfer Jimmy Walker was diagnosed in 2017. Lyme has most certainly affected his life, both on the green and off. And, as if that wasn’t challenging enough, it recently dealt her family a powerful, new blow: Erin discovered this past December that she also has Lyme.
Gwyn Prentice, Helen Jon’s founder, like Erin and Jimmy and countless others, lives with this disease, which is not for the faint of heart. Gwyn, inspired by Erin’s ability to walk this path with grace, purpose, positivity - and with an inspiring sense of “I’ve got this,” sat down with Erin to find out more.
Lyme isn’t winning. Erin’s advocacy and awareness efforts empower and educate others about Lyme. We are pleased and proud to share her wisdom and experience with our Helen Jon community.
Thank you for sitting down and talking with me. I, along with so many others, have been touched by your words and your work. One of the first questions that comes to my mind is this: How do you keep your positive outlook? It’s truly inspiring!
First off, thank you so much for letting me talk about my Lyme journey. The more people who know about Lyme Disease, the more we are able to help get properly diagnosed and treated!
For me, I was a caregiver before I was a patient. We found out about my husband’s diagnosis first, so I had to be the one to lift him up and keep him going. I’m a pretty positive person in general so I transferred those thoughts and feelings to my own diagnoses.
Not all days are roses and sunshine, but on the bad days I try to take a minute to reflect on why the day / hour / few minutes aren’t going well, allow myself those feelings and then push on. My husband has struggled with the depression aspects of Lyme more than I have, so I feel like I need to be strong for him and our kids.
There is so much confusion and controversy around Lyme? Why is this? And what message would you like to share with our readers to help clarify the main essentials?
I’m not entirely sure of the reasons surrounding the controversy about Lyme. There are many theories out there that I won’t really get into, but I do know that people need to be aware that this is REAL. We all aren’t crazy. We are/were actually sick! Everyone needs to know the realities of the symptoms, and more doctors need to know how to treat it.
We love your hashtag: #keepmoving. On the days when things feel overwhelming, how do you lift yourself up? What suggestions do you have for others who are contending with challenges in their lives?
I started #keepmoving well before I had Lyme. I have been a constant traveler since meeting my husband in 2004 and joining him on the road. After I got sick, it just seemed so relevant.
Push through the bad days. Do one thing during those days that makes you feel good about yourself. Keep moving!
For me, it’s my Equestrian riding or Pilates. Do something each day to make you realize that life is still worth getting up for!
You have harnessed the power of social media and use it for good. Your Instagram and Twitter accounts—as well as your blog, Tour Wife Travels—reach a huge audience. And, you are so much fun to follow! What has this community you have created taught you?
I realized that Jimmy and I have quite a large reach and most importantly, people need to know about Lyme. I get quite a few emails or DM’s a week about how to deal with Lyme. I’m not a doctor, but I do try to point each person to credible doctors or sources and get them on the right track back to health.
Where do you find your hope and strength to battle a chronic disease?
Jimmy and I are very lucky in the fact that we believe we were diagnosed early. Most days we both feel mostly back to “normal.” Jimmy is still dealing with some of the neurological effects of the disease, and it’s apparent on the golf course. But for the most part, it’s mostly good days.
I really try to focus on how far we’ve come since being diagnosed.
I want people to know that early diagnosis is the key. You CAN get better.
Maybe you don’t feel 100% every day but enjoy the good days!
You are the featured speaker for an upcoming event hosted by the Global Lyme Alliance. Tell us about this.
I’ve done several speaking events for GLA and a few other organizations since my diagnoses. I feel so honored to share our story. The word needs to be spread. This is REAL but it’s also treatable if recognized early. I really appreciate each event I speak at, and I’ve met some really amazing people. People who are a lot sicker than Jimmy and me, but they still get out of bed and fight the fight. They are my heroes!
Erin, from all of us to you: Thank you for so beautifully sharing your journey with others.