"I am a Hep Hero because I believe hepatitis C is a misunderstood illness, people are at times unfairly discriminated against, and I want it to be better understood. I also want the available and successful new treatments to be made available to anyone who is suffwring this debilitating and sometimes life-threatening condition."
I contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion after the birth of my first daughter in 1975 but didn't know I had it until I was diagnosed in 2008, an astonishing 33 years later. When I was told I had hepatitis C I was firstly stunned and went into shock to them make room for fear...of not knowing much about it and its implications. Suddenly all those years of of symptoms finally started to make sense.
I was told there was a possible cure available and elected to participate immediately in what wwas the only available treatment oat the time. This conventional treatment involved weekly injections of interferon in combination with ribavirin for a total of 24 - devastating - weeks. The side effectes were terrible and made me feel even works than I already did. It was almost impossible to keep up with my ful-time job and enjoy quality time with my family. Nonetheless I persisted and compelted this regime only to find it had been unsuccessful. Concluding this I continued with my life, although hep C was now a big part of it, and struggled with the the lack of energy as well as being constantly worried that I would develop liver cancer.
Thankfully that all changed in September 2013 when I was offered a place in a clinical trial at St Vincent's. After only 12 weeks on the new drugs I was deemed cured, and after another six months given the all clear. This has given me a completely new lease on life and until now I didn't realise how sick I actually was. To feel how I do now is something I never imagined would happen.
My life couldn't be more different: I am enjoying my newfound energy with my family, beautiful grandson, at work and at the gym - where I am working on getting my fitness back. I would also like to use this energy to educate the wider community about hepatitis C, and help put a stop to the stigma that it unfairly associated with it.
I would like to see the new treatments available now, so they can transform the lives of other people as they have transformed mine.