Diagnosed with Hep C in 2000
I had been sick for some time, having had a brain tumor and 15 surgeries. I still wasn’t prepared for what I was told. Picture it: Your name is called. You are put in a room designated for filing cabinets. The doctor walks in, asks for your name, and says, “Oh, you’re the one that has hepatitis,” and walks out. A nurse comes in and tells me I can go! I knew nothing other than I had a disease. That was in 2000.
For six years, I fought for insurance, a doctor who would see me, and for my chance to beat this. My chance came in 2006 with 24 weeks of PegIntron and ribavirin. I had genotype 1. Sick was an understatement. Every day I told myself, “I quit.” I was so depressed I scared myself. My hair was gone. Two weeks in, I was already negative for hepatitis C and I managed to deal with treatment.
Six months after treatment, the virus was back. Moreover, I now had cirrhosis and was headed to the liver transplant doctor. That was an awful experience. My MELD score (a measurement of the degree of liver damage) wasn’t high enough to qualify for a liver transplant. Although I was quite sick, it didn’t matter, and basically, I was screwed. At that point, all I had left were prayer and faith. Secretly, I felt as if I didn’t matter and that everyone had given up on me.
Then in December 2014, I got the call. There’s a new study for a drug with a 99 percent cure rate. Treatment lasts 12 weeks, it means taking one pill a day, and there are hardly any side effects. They had me at the word “cure!” At that point, what did I have to lose? So I started sofosbuvir with ribavirin, both once a day. There was nothing to it. The only side effects were headaches, which I’m already prone to. I also dealt with heartburn, but I do have an ulcer. It was the easiest 12 weeks, though the hardest wait.
The result makes all that happened before turn in to just a memory. I’m here, I’m cured, and I feel great! Don’t give up. I promise you are going to have bad days and want to quit. “Why me?” will be a natural thought. However, I know for sure that you are not alone with your thoughts and you are not alone with your disease.
What three adjectives best describe you?
A fighter, dreamer and believer
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest regret?
Losing my family because of my disease
What keeps you up at night?
How to make hepatitis a discussion
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
To make hepatitis C treatment available for everyone
What is the best advice you ever received?
I’m worth the fight.
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
My nurses, who are two beautiful souls
What drives you to do what you do?
My daughter and I are worth it.
What is your motto?
To enjoy every rainy day, even if it hails
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My insurance cards
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A lion; I want people to not only hear my roar, but to learn from it.