By Johnny Dodd in People.
Whitney Dafoe spent most of his 20s visiting doctors and undergoing tests to find an explanation for why he felt so weak and exhausted.
“I was open to all possibilities,” recalls the one-time globetrotting, aspiring photographer, who often spent months at a time backpacking through remote locations around the world, only to return home run-down and ill from his treks.
“I just wanted answers,” he tells PEOPLE. “So many doctors told me that nothing was wrong with me because the lab results kept coming back negative. I even tried to talk my therapist into the idea that I had a psychological illness, but he would have none of it.”
It wasn’t until 2012, when Whitney was 29, that a doctor confirmed he was suffering from a severe case of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a mysterious disease believed to affect as many as 2.5 million Americans.
“There’s no definitive [diagnostic] test,” says his father, Ron Davis, 79, a renowned professor of biochemistry and genetics at Stanford University, who has spent the past nine years searching for a cure for the disease that’s characterized by debilitating exhaustion, cognitive dysfunction and other symptoms.
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