Musician, Hepatitis Community Advocate
“I’m a Hep Hero because I bit the bullet and gave treatment a go. It took a lot of guts, but I’m now cured of hepatitis C. So I want to help others who are in the same position that I was."
Jen has a musical background as both a violinist and composer. She has performed with many Australian and international artists such as Moby, Michelle Shocked, The Black Sorrows, Weddings Parties Anything, The Waifs and Archie Roach. She has produced and/or engineered albums with the likes of Ruby Hunter, Tim Rogers, and The Waifs, and performed on many others for artists such as Dave Graney, Nick Cave and Midnight Oil. Jen also has a keen interest in health issues, having studied nursing training and completed a Masters in Public Health. She is currently on the Board of Hepatitis Australia.
I believe that music is the most powerful medium and have a long-term plan to mix music and health. As a Melburnian I am proud to support Hepatitis Victoria and share my Hep Hero story.
When I first discovered that I had hepatitis C I ignored it for many years. I didn’t feel unwell, and anyway, I was scared about treatment. But I had regular blood tests for liver check ups.
Then in 2011 my liver results started skyrocketing! I had to face the fact that if I didn’t do something soon, I might get liver cancer and die. I didn’t want that!
So I found out everything I could about treatment, and I went along to the Hepatitis Victoria support group and also did the 6 week health management course that they run – it was really helpful.
In 2012 I finally bit the bullet and underwent treatment, which included taking 2 new trial drugs along with the ‘standard’ drugs. It worked for me, and wasn’t half as scary as I thought it would be. One year on, and I feel fantastic!
Now I want to help others who are in a similar position to what I was. I want to encourage those who are worried about their liver health to face their fear of treatment and look into giving it a go before it’s too late.
The great thing is that drug treatments keep getting better than what they used to be, with higher cure rates and lower treatment times – hopefully soon there’ll be hardly any side effects at all.
One of the main things is to set yourself up with some support to help you get through the treatment. If you’ve got an understanding partner, other family member, or friend, that’s great, but if you haven’t, places like Hepatitis Victoria are really helpful and are a good place to get info and to find others who are in the same boat as you.
Also, it’s important for people to talk about both hepatitis B and C, so that everyone can learn about it. Many people from all walks of life are affected by it. The more we can bring the subject out into the open, the less fear the general public will have about it.
Once they see that we are normal people just like everyone else, it will make our lives easier, and we don’t need to be so scared of going ahead with treatment, or getting help from family, friends, and work mates.