UPDATE! VanLaanen has released a new documentary, LymeLight, dealing with her battle with Lyme disease.
Over A Decade of Lyme Disease
VanLaanen has spent the last two years fighting the Lyme disease she now believes has been responsible for a range of symptoms she has suffered since she was ten. More than a decade of misdiagnoses meant that the Bellingham local continued to have severe bouts of fatigue, pain and dizziness but none of this stopped her from pursuing ballet, figure skating and soccer before finally throwing herself into skiing after she graduated from high school in 2005.
Intensive Treatment for US Skier
After spending plenty of time skiing Mount Baker, VanLaanen went on to place in the top five in the X-Games in 2007-2008 and in a number of other competitions between 2005 and 2009 when she finally received a diagnosis of Borreliosis. The athlete began intensive treatment to fight the infection and, two and a half years later, is back doing the sport that she loves, with a chance to represent America at the Olympics in Sochi next year.
What Next for VanLaanen?
VanLaanen may not consider herself lucky but her remarkable achievements in spite of Lyme disease are just that, remarkable. Untreated Lyme disease can cause joint damage, organ damage, nervous system dysfunction, cardiovascular problems and even death, although many cases caught early are easily treated with the right antibiotics with no lasting effects. That VanLaanen managed to get to the top of her sport with an active bacterial infection is phenomenal and it remains to be seen what the young athlete can do now her health has been restored.