While it's become a central plot point on the latest season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it's important to remember that Yolanda Foster is still dealing with her Lyme disease diagnosis, searching tirelessly for a cure to end her pain and suffering. Much has been made of her illness on this season, with several cast members calling into doubt not only that she has Lyme disease, but that she's as sick as she says, and whether her two children Anwar and Bella Hadid also actually have it. Despite the doubts cast by her fellow Housewives, Foster has made it her mission to speak on behalf of other Lyme sufferers, so how did she actually get Lyme disease in the first place?
While the most commonly known (and widely accepted) medical view is that Lyme disease is contracted via deer tick bite, that's where the simplicity with this disease ends. For starters, early symptoms of Lyme disease are not absolute. Some people remember being bitten by a tick because they removed the tick themselves, or receive the telltale "bull's-eye" rash at the site of the bite. Others simply don't get the rash or never realize they were bitten by a tiny tick. Things only get more complex from there for many Lyme sufferers.
Foster has been an advocate for those struggling with the same disease for nearly three years, as evidenced by her social media accounts.
Of course, this photo featuring a lime green-clad, beaming Foster surrounded by fellow advocates is a stark reality to the Foster we see today, often bedridden and appearing less-than-healthy:
As time has gone on from her initial diagnosis in late 2012, Foster has opened up a flood of conversation surrounding Lyme disease: how it's contracted, how it's often misdiagnosed, and how complicated treating it can be. It's unclear if Foster was actually bitten by a tick, but she told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! in early 2013 that she realized she was ill when shooting RHOBH and her brain functioning was impaired.
She has since publicly chronicled her efforts to find the best treatment for her, all the while sharing her ups and downs on her journey for a cure. Though people question exactly how Foster and her children could contract the disease, Foster explains on her Bravo blog: "The children and I lived on a horse ranch in Santa Barbara for 10 years and spent the majority of our time outside in nature." Fans will remember that Foster, in healthier days, spent a lot of time gardening, and the family has always loved to ride horses. This time spent outside naturally ups the chances for getting a hard-to-notice tick bite, thus furthering the chances for the Lyme disease she's still struggling with all these years later.
As someone who watched my mom struggle with the exact same search for a diagnosis and a cure for Lyme disease that Foster and her family are still dealing with, I especially wish them all the best. It goes to show that money and fame don't make someone immune to serious illness, and that there is a long way to go for Foster and others struggling with the painful reality of Lyme disease.