LYME DISEASE: Is this a cure?
SIX years after contracting Lyme disease while living in the US, a young Lennox Head woman faces a daily battle just to get out of bed.
What makes Ellie Alford's pain even more agonising is the fact Australia's medical industry is unable to help her.
There is no protocol in Australia for treating Lyme disease, because it isn't recognised as a disease that exists in Australia.
It's a situation in the past that has pushed some Australian Lyme sufferers to take their own lives.
"Sometimes you think there is no other option, and that feels like your only way out," the 25-year-old said.
Driven to desperation, hundreds of people like Ellie have resorted to spending their life savings on treatments overseas in a bid to heal themselves.
Before last year, she said she had tried "every single thing" and spent "thousands and thousands of dollars" to no effect.
"It's so disheartening when you are just getting worse and worse," she said.
Finally last year she and her partner Jadens spent $30,000 they had managed to scrape together on a "gamble" - to try Ozone therapy at a clinic in Cyprus.
Ozone therapy is an alternative form of treatment which administers ozone gas in order to stimulate the immune system. There is some anecdotal evidence it has successfully treated Lyme disease in the past.
After six weeks of treatment she regained her ability to move without pain, and woke up "without a headache for the first time in five years".
"To see that weight lifted off her shoulders was a big deal for us," Jaden said.
He said before the couple left Australia last year Ellie was at "rock bottom". "We were wondering 'what's going to happen if this doesn't work'," he said.
"I think since the treatment she's had massive improvement."
Unfortunately for the treatment to be successful long-term, Ellie may need to undertake it up to four or five times.
This year, a family friend has set up a Gofundme page to help the couple raise sufficient funds to make the trip.
"We didn't accept donations last year because it was a gamble," Ellie said. "But now we know it works."
"We've set a goal for $35,000 and I am trying to access my superannuation as well.
"We'll just put the effort in now and hopefully I'll be able to live my life again."
For more information about Ellie's campaign, head to the Gofundme page here: