Hepatitis C: the cure that keeps on giving
During the first interview I did way back in July, a local person was listening. That person had hepatitis C. They were my age, had been in very similar circumstances to me and they had been searching for a cure. Just like me. After listening to the interview, they made contact with the Liver Clinic at St Vincents.
That’s all I knew until tonight. After my subsequent interview celebrating the fact I am virus free, they contacted the radio station. They wanted to tell me how they were going. I was so excited to talk to that person tonight. They are on the same treatment I was on through St Vincents and they are nearly finished. They finish very close to Christmas Day. My fervent hope is that they get the cure they are looking for. They sure deserve it.
Living in a regional town is challenging if you have something that is so stigmatised. It’s hard to access support and often we go through these treatments alone. The lucky ones have their family. The really lucky ones have a support group they’ve gathered over the years. Advocacy groups do the best job they can, but many people don’t want to disclose their hep C diagnosis and frankly, I totally understand that. It’s hard to support a hidden community, let alone one that has so few members scattered around a really large state.
So here’s to the person who is travelling the same path I did, in the same town. My Christmas wish is for them to experience the same great joy I did on hearing I had cleared the virus.
I also spoke to a very very longstanding friend (I was going to call him an old friend, then realised he was younger than me!) this afternoon. He’d seen some links to my interview even though he lives hundreds of kilometres away. He talked about treatment and his progression towards being ready to start it.
I had no idea he’d been living with the virus, so I felt like a pretty crap friend to tell you the truth. I shared a bit of my treatment story and I hope he will move forward with his plans to access treatment in whatever way is possible. I hope he goes to the doctor and gets checked out. I hope he continues to search for the best way forward for himself.
What amazing conversations I have had today!
And they all go back to an article I read last year by Professor Margaret Hellard about eliminating hep C. That article led me to Margaret, who gave me a name at St Vincents. That name led me to IBAC at St Vincents Hospital and the people there who have cured me.
So thank you, Margaret. What seemed to you a simple email answering a fairly basic question has spread out into the world and made a world of difference to me, to my family, to the person here in my town, to my friend, and I hope to the people who have read my blog and listened to me ramble on air.
Your act of kindness has been repaid many times over - you just didn’t know it till now.