Charlestown, Rhode Island
Diagnosed with Hep C in 2013
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in November 2013. I couldn’t figure out why I had no appetite and was so tired all of the time. I had lost a great deal of weight, almost 45 pounds in five months. Fatigue coupled with severe joint pain led my family doctor to suspect Lyme disease. A six-week course of antibiotics with doxycycline offered no relief. In fact, I felt worse. A few blood tests later, I was diagnosed with hep C. My Blue Cross prescription plan didn’t have Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) on their formulary yet. It would be three months before I’d find out if this medication would be approved and I could be treated. My guardian angel must have helped, because exactly three months later I received the call from my gastroenterology nurse informing me that I was approved to begin treatment.
The prescribed cocktail was Sovaldi, ribavirin, and peginterferon. The treatment wasn’t actually that painful. OK, maybe the first month was tough. The 12-week lab results were completely negative for any trace of the virus. Both elated and cautious, I felt like I had been given a second chance. The six-month post-treatment blood work was also negative, which means I achieved a sustained virologic response, or SVR.
I am truly blessed. I have been a registered nurse for 20 years. I’ve started working with the substance abuse population, a group with a higher-than-average risk for hepatitis C. Most are infected, untested and untreated. My work helps them navigate the health care system and get access to the medical care that was neglected for many years due to active addiction, lack of education and the like. If I can help folks obtain the treatment that I was so fortunate to get, and have a second chance at life, then I will be eternally grateful.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Compassionate, motivated, passionate
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest regret?
Not finding recovery until I was 40 years old
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking of ways to improve myself
If you could change one thing about living with viral hepatitis, what would it be?
I believe that I needed to go through everything to get where I am today, so therefore I would change nothing.
What is the best advice you ever received?
What other people think about you is none of your business!
What person in the viral hepatitis community do you most admire?
All of them
What drives you to do what you do?
Passion for the nursing field and helping people
What is your motto?
Whatever it takes
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; they give unconditional love.