Grass Valley, California
Diagnosed with Hep C in 1988
A truth that never fails me is that joy comes from pain. Because I know this, I don’t give up when times are hard; I don’t want to miss the treasure that is just around the corner. This has served me for more than 25 years, but before then, I gave up easily.
Mental illness dogged me for more than twenty years. In 1988, beaten by severe clinical depression, I gave up and took a near lethal overdose. The initial result was multi-organ failure. My liver failed, with enzymes above 18,000. My kidneys failed, my heart was going, and I was told that I would be in a coma within hours and dead within a day.
With death hours away, I did something completely new for me-I let go of fear and surrendered to the mysterious unknown. I focused on the present, with no concern about the outcome. I smiled, and asked about others. I was kind to everyone I encountered-my family, the medical team, and the hospital staff. In short, I became grateful rather than scared. Everything turned around, and I have never been the same.
I am alive because of transfused blood. I vowed that if I lived, I would not waste those precious transfusions. I have kept this vow, despite the fact that I acquired hepatitis C from the donated blood that saved my life. Was hepatitis C a gift or a burden? For me, it was a gift.
Because of hepatitis C, I found my voice. Because of hepatitis C, I became a nurse who specializes in this disease. Because of hepatitis C, I became a speaker, educator and advocate. Because of hepatitis C, I became a writer and author.
Hepatitis C gave me the gifts of balance, patience and health. Yes, health, because I was confronted with a choice-learn how to live with hepatitis C or suffer because of it. I choose to live, so I exercise, eat well, keep my weight under control, sleep enough, avoid alcohol, meditate, play and pursue humor.
I went through three hepatitis C treatments. The first two didn’t work, but the third did. In 2013, I participated in a twelve-week clinical trial using sofosbuvir, ledipasvir and ribavirin. After 25 years of living with hepatitis C, it is gone.
Near death and three treatments have taught me to never give up. Hepatitis C treatments are getting easier, shorter and more effective. Hope is here, and more hope is around the corner.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Accepting, humorous, grateful
What is your greatest achievement?
Transforming a life of pain into a life of peace and joy
What is your greatest regret?
I have no regrets
What keeps you up at night?
A starry sky, the chatting of frogs, and a heart full of gratitude
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
What is the best advice you ever received?
No time for your health today will result in no time for your health tomorrow.
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
Congressman Hank Johnson
What drives you to do what you do?
Hepatitis C has given me much more than it has taken from me. Because I was given this gift, I am driven to help others with hepatitis C.
What is your motto?
It is the thirst for certainty that so confuses the mind.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
After my husband and dog, I’d grab my cell phone so I could call the fire department.
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A river otter. They seem playful and carefree.