“I am a HepHero because I think my story will be able to help others”
I contracted the hepatitis C from IV drug use between 1979 and 1983. At that time I was experimenting with IV drugs, which was quite common amongst my peers. In those days there was no public awareness about the transmission of blood borne viruses.
I was diagnosed in 2010 when another health problem alerted my GP that something was very wrong. An abnormal Liver Function Test resulted in me being referred to a gastro specialist.
I told her my entire health history, including information about my alcoholism and IV drug use, way back in the late 70s and early 80s. She then suggested I have a hep C test, which came back positive.
I was extremely shocked and upset when I learned about my hepatitis diagnosis. Mainly because I had stopped drinking and taking drugs in 1984 and felt that after living a clean and sober life for that length of time this diagnosis seemed very unfair.
What I heard about treatment at the time was that it was ‘no walk in the park’ - with extensive physical and mental side effects present in the majority of people. However, after the triple therapy came in, the percentage of people clearing the virus looked higher. That gave me hope.
I then had a test and found I had the gene that responded to treatment, so that gave me even more hope. If I embarked on treatment I may have a good chance of clearing the virus.
It helped me immensely going to a monthly support group where I prepared myself for treatment around July 2012. However, after arriving at the hospital the hep C Nurse told me I was unable to undertake treatment because of a rheumatoid factor in my blood that meant that there was a possibility that I could contract full blown rheumatoid arthritis if I had the Interferon based treatment.
I had no choice but to wait for new improved treatments, that I had heard would be coming in 4-5 years’ time, and would not include Interferon.
Since then, my health has been reasonably good. I tried to stay focused on living one day at a time and doing what I can to manage my condition and to raise awareness about hepatitis C, like participating in the HEPSpeak program or becoming a HepHero.
I had put myself on the waiting list of interferon-free trials and prayed every day for a phone call saying I have secured a place. Waiting is now over.
I have been notified by my specialist that on March 11th I’ll be getting a prescription for one of the new hep C drugs. After this long wait, I’m finally able to start treatment and get rid of this virus.