Coleman, Wisconsin

Diagnosed With Hep C in 2014

I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in November 2014.  It was the most devastating news I have ever received. Initially, I fell into a deep state of depression and felt lost. I buried myself in research, reading everything about hep C that I could, including personal stories and blogs. I saw a specialist who at first seemed like she might be able to help me. However, when I called her office with suggestions, her nurses told me to stop calling. So I asked my family physician to switch me to a different doctor, which was the best decision of my life.

My insurance plan denied coverage for treatment. I appealed the decision but was further denied. I was also turned down for financial assistance by one of the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture hep C medications. I was losing hope and falling deep back into my depression.  

In June 2015, I emailed AbbVie’s Viekira Pak patient program and begged for help. It was my last shot, and I had nothing to lose. In less than 12 hours, I received a phone call from AbbVie, and they told me that they would do everything in their power to help me.

After talking to my insurance company and my doctor, they kept their word. By September, I was taking Viekira Pak. Apparently, I was the first in my area to get one of the new hep C cures (there were only two new treatments at that time).

At my four-week checkup, my doctor told me that my determination to be cured despite the denials and depression helped others to seek treatment. I will be grateful forever to AbbVie for saving my life and keeping their word when I was on the verge of losing all hope in my life. I am also grateful for my doctor who never doubted my ability to get what I desperately wanted and for supporting me when I took my future into my own hands. She tells me all the time how I saved my life and that I should always be proud of myself. However, I give credit to the manufacturer of Viekira Pak for not pushing me away like the other company did.

It’s been over a year since my treatment, and I’m still cured. Having hep C has changed me in many ways. For instance, I don’t take my life for granted, and I am more determined to do something positive with my life now that I’ve gotten a second chance. They say everything happens for a reason. If I were to give advice to anyone, it would be this, “Never give up on something that your heart truly wants; it will pay off!”

What three adjectives best describe you?

Determined, caring, strong-minded.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting cured of hepatitis C less than a year after being diagnosed.

What is your greatest regret?

I have many, but the most obvious is putting myself in the position of getting infected with hepatitis C in the first place.

What keeps you up at night?

Everything! I have generalized anxiety disorder so I have a tendency to think 24/7 even when I don’t realize I’m doing it.

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

When I had hepatitis C, the thing that was the hardest to deal with was the tiredness. It was so unbearable that some days I couldn’t even get out of bed.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Only I can help myself; therefore, I must never give up on what I truly want in life.

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

I feel terrible saying this, but I don’t know anyone enough to admire them. However, I have an unlimited amount of respect for my doctor and the people who work for the Viekira Pak patient support program.

What drives you to do what you do?

I have a second chance at life. How could that not drive me to do the things I want to accomplish in my life? My son is also a very huge inspiration to do better with my life.

What is your motto?

“Don’t be scared. Be prepared for worst.” These are lyrics from a Jedi Mind Tricks song “The Worst,” which I’ve always used as a motto.

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

My son.

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

A rabbit because they are the best animals ever.