Update: Sadly, on the night of November 4th, 2019, Heather Colman-McGill passed away. Please read the tribute to Heather co-written by her friends here
If you had a chance to save someone’s life, would you?
Hopefully, most people would answer this question with a resounding “YES!”, even if the person was a stranger.
That chance to save a beautiful soul is right here, right now. And it cannot wait. Our dear friend Heather urgently needs volunteers with experience in mold avoidance to vet housing.
As her family and friends know, Heather has faced monumental health challenges and despite her best efforts, she is now at the end of the line. Through it all, she has been a tremendous fighter and a defiant lover of life, despite what it has thrown at her. She has refused to let limitations imposed by severe illness undermine her quest for healing.
For those of you who do not know Heather, she is a lovely and caring woman who is suffering from an extremely severe form of myalgic encephalomyelitis and multiple chemical sensitivities from toxic mold exposure. She is completely bed-bound and is unable to care for herself. She is presently in the Boston area living in (moldy) hotels and is largely alone, but has a supportive friend network. She is declining and has become so sick that most doctors in her area do not know what to do. This is despite attempting moderate avoidance of indoor toxic molds over the last few years, staying in the least moldy hotels and Airbnb’s she could find.
Thankfully, there is one important treatment that Heather has not been able to try, but that could save her life; a mold sabbatical.
The idea behind a mold sabbatical is to avoid any and all mold exposure for a prolonged period of time until the immune system becomes less reactive. Many people have seen their health improve with enough time away from mold. We are hopeful that this particular form of mold avoidance will benefit Heather, as it has so many others.
What is needed right now
Heather needs a safe place to live, one that is free of the mold and environmental toxins that have destabilized her health to a point where she is now within inches of her life.
Patients who are attempting mold avoidance and are less severely affected than Heather are often able to camp initially in pristine areas, and then search for mold-safe housing after they become aware of the effects of mold on them. But this is simply not possible for someone at Heather’s illness severity. She is too weak to visit housing, and often experiences delayed reactions to mold toxins. But once she experiences these reactions, mold exposure can lead to severe organ pain and other severe neurological symptoms. As a result, the only way for her to find a safe home is for a volunteer(s) from the mold avoidance community to test out potential housing for safety. Typically, this involves someone who has benefited from a mold sabbatical and is now in a better place of health but is still reactive to mold.
Vetting a safe home
Specifically, Heather needs someone:
who is “unmasked” to indoor toxic mold and who feels confident of their ability to assess and quickly determine whether a place is safe for mold avoiders;
who can assess potential housing throughout northern New England, including northern New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont;
who is not currently living in a moldy environment (to avoid cross-contamination)
We understand that many of you in the mold avoidance community are still quite ill or may not wish to trigger a mold response. However, a person who has improved from mold avoidance, but is still reactive to it, will be Heather’s best chance at finding a safe place and saving her life.
If you are considering this special job or want more information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are able to help, but finances for travel are a problem, we can help offset travel expenses. We don’t want this to be a barrier to her getting help, so if that is standing in your way, please let us know.
This is an urgent request so if you are considering helping out, please reach out ASAP. Please do not assume that there is an abundance of others to help in this way!
Heather has not yet had the benefit of seeing what a true mold sabbatical could do for regaining some of her health. Let’s see if we can get her to a better place.
More about Heather
Heather first developed ME/CFS as a teenager, though like many patients, she was not diagnosed for nearly 20 years. The condition leads to a breakdown in the body’s ability to generate energy, among many immunological and neurological problems, and is typically triggered after the body receives more physiological insults than it can handle. In her case, she was infected by a tick-borne disease at 12 and mononucleosis at 18, and was exposed to toxigenic mold in her childhood homes and schools. She began having many symptoms of the illness, but when doctors had no answers, she simply pushed through. She was a straight-A student, an athlete, and a world traveler with a tremendous zest for life. Despite her illness, she managed to earn a BA in Biology at Bowdoin and a Masters in Environmental Science at Yale before starting a part-time environmental consultancy, doing work on climate change for the United Nations.
At the age of 29, she collapsed completely. She is 100% bedbound now and relies on caregivers for the most basic tasks of daily living.
Thank you for considering this request.