This is in response to Larry Marcel's comments in the Dec. 2 Sound Off column. As someone who was infected with valley fever more than 21/2 years ago, I can honestly say before I got it, I was as uneducated about the subject as Marcel.

Until you've contracted valley fever, you just don't know the depths of its effects. Lying in bed with a persistent cough barely being able to breathe and with an abundant amount of fatigue, I told my husband it was time to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with valley fever and lay in a hospital bed for eight days. The infection quickly left me with a 3-inch hole in my left lung. I was immediately put on very toxic drugs that had me wondering: "What's worse? The disease or the cure?"

I lost much of my hair, but my body began responding to the meds and the hole in my lung began closing up. The doctors say that never happens; I believe the power of prayer from my friends helped. I was one of the lucky ones, as many people have part of their lungs removed or the infection spreads to other organs. Marcel's repeated statement that "it's no big deal" couldn't be further from the truth. Valley fever is an epidemic and needs to be treated as such.

For anyone like Marcel that needs to be educated about the disease, the website and the book "Valley Fever Epidemic" are invaluable resources.

Colleen Stockman