Diagnosed with Hep C in 1997
I contracted hepatitis C in 1979 through a blood transfusion. I was diagnosed with genotype 1a in 1997. I was a non-responder after several rounds of interferon and ribavirin. For years, my condition remained status quo. I suffered from the usual tiredness and body aches that accompany the virus. As the years passed, other autoimmune diseases presented: thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjögren’s Syndrome, to name a few.
My liver function test bounced around from normal to slightly elevated. My physicians assured me there was plenty of time to wait for the next cure. My liver tests begin to skyrocket. In 2011, I needed am appendectomy; in 2013, gallbladder surgery and a liver biopsy. The biopsy indicated I had stage 2 to 3 fibrosis without cirrhosis. Again, I was assured I could wait. In November 2014, Harvoni was prescribed. My insurance company denied coverage because I was not sick enough. We appealed. Again, I was denied.
I decided to try a physician at the Cleveland Clinic. A Fibrosure test was ordered, and in March 2015, I learned I had stage 4 fibrosis, which means I have cirrhosis. How could this have happened in a little over a year? I still don’t understand. Harvoni was prescribed again. This time I was sick enough. I am on a 24-week regimen. After eight weeks, my viral load is undetectable. My liver tests are normal. I am grateful for the medication and a chance to clear this virus forever.
I am upset that I am left with a compromised liver. This didn’t have to happen. The moral of my story is don’t take no for an answer. Continue to seek second and third opinions if that is needed. Be grateful for every day. Carpe diem (seize the day)!
What adjectives best describe you?
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest regret?
I have no regrets.
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
To have found a cure before I developed cirrhosis
What is the best advice you ever received?
To be happy with what you have
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
All of the patients who have this disease and don’t let it get the best of them
What drives you to do what you do?
Love for family and friends
What is your motto?
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A dog, because a dog is man’s best friend