Monument, Colorado

Mother Diagnosed With Hep C in 2010          

Hepatitis C highly impacted my life, affecting not only my mother, who had it, but our whole family and community. When someone is diagnosed with hep C, it doesn’t just affect that person but also everyone around that person. I experienced this firsthand.

I remember distinctly the day my mom came home after she was diagnosed with hep C. It was during a routine pregnancy checkup for one of my little brothers. My mom’s doctor told her that the available treatment wasn’t the one for her, and she needed to wait for something new. The doctor shared that interferon had horrible side effects and wasn’t very effective and that my mom wasn’t a good candidate. At that time, I really didn’t think much of it. I had never even heard of hepatitis C. My parents didn’t share much about it—I guess to protect us from fear. Little did I know the impact hep C would have on our entire family.

Fast-forward a few years. My mom was a trouper. Somehow, she managed to raise five children, be a wife, homeschool us, take us to church and care deeply about each of us despite feeling severely fatigued all the time. There were times she struggled to walk across the room. She had been living with the virus for years and didn’t know that was the cause of her fatigue. Most doctors don’t test for hep C unless specifically asked. My mom just assumed her fatigue was from her busy life and maybe anemia.

When the new treatment [Harvoni] came out, it was time to move forward in the healing process. The doctor suggested a liver biopsy to check the status of my mom’s liver disease. My youngest brother was only 8 weeks old when this happened. We thought we would be going home that same day. We did not. Due to complications, the simple procedure led to my mom having to spend a month in the hospital and a year in bed on oxygen, not being able to treasure and savor the moments of her newborn. With great sadness, she had to wean him at just 8 weeks and hand him over to my dad and me to raise until she got better. There were countless tear-filled nights and moments of not knowing what was going to come next. The doctors shared with my dad that my mom could die. She endured incredible pain and suffering. Throughout this, we were hopeful that God was in control, leading and guiding our every step.

After that year of being so sick, my mom started to return to a new semi-normal. She was finally starting to be able to mother again, and yet she was still very fatigued. Much to our happiness, it was finally time to move forward with treatment. Through an awesome program, my mom was able to get the treatment she needed to begin the process of healing from hep C. After 12 weeks of treatment with Harvoni, she is now cured. She is healthier and happier than before, and we are so grateful for that.

Editor’s Note: You can read Kelsey’s mother Carleen’s story here, and her father James’s story here. The McGuffey family is committed to raising awareness about liver disease. For more information, check out their nonprofit, Climbing for Carleen.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Thoughtful, Christian, adventurous.

What is your greatest achievement?

Coming to an understanding of the truth of the Gospel.

What is your greatest regret?

Not taking more risks for those around me.

What keeps you up at night?

Hmmm...talking with my best friend, color coordinating my closet, cuddling with my brothers. 

If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?

The stigma that is attached to hepatitis C and the cost of the drugs to treat it.

What is the best advice you ever received?

“Love others as I have loved you.”—Jesus

What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?

Lucinda Porter. She lives with such excellence and serves the people of the liver disease community with such care and compassion.

What drives you to do what you do?

Jesus! He is my inspiration for living and breathing. I want to live a life that represents Him well.

What is your motto?

Risk is right.

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?

Practically speaking, probably my iPhone.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?

A panda, because, duh, they are cute.