I know I did not get anything written last week. Right out of the gate I dropped the ball. The end of the week got a little bogged down with work and I panicked over what to say about Hepatitis C, so I didn’t say anything at all. I’m bad and I apologize.
Over the weekend I decided I want this to be a more personal look at the people who battle the virus and the support people around them…
The Faces of Hepatitis C
I can run you off a list of celebrities who tested positive for the virus, Naomi Judd, David Crosby, Gregg Allman, Jim Nabors, Christopher Lawford, Allen Ginsberg, Evil Knievel, Mickey Mantle… The list spans many generations and many genres. What it doesn’t cover are the superstars that fight this battle without benefit of limelight or multi-million dollar bank accounts. People like my husband and my friends.
Back in 1996 my future husband started feeling blah. He was constantly complaining about abdominal pain, being achy all over, and very tired. No one took him seriously. He spent many hours in the ER back then. Always with the same result, NOTHING WRONG GO HOME.
That was until some blood work came back with higher than normal white count and the attending ER doctor found swollen lymph nodes. The original guess, and yes I do mean guess, was lymphoma. It makes for a really wonderful day when an oncologist leaves a message on your answering machine saying they think you have cancer.
After more blood tests, ultra sounds, and cat scans they said oops we were wrong, you have hepatitis C. What a relief, only Hepatitis C. By the way what exactly is Hepatitis C?
Discovered only seven years prior, there was very little information. The doctors could only pass along it was considered a blood borne virus, contagious, and spread by bodily fluids. How contagious and what bodily fluids they were unsure. However; precautions similar to those for HIV should be taken. The virus would attack the liver leading to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and probably death. There were experimental trials for treatment starting soon, but the success rate was not looking good. Treatment might lead to remission, but not a cure.
This was the beginning of the journey into Hep C hell and back. Thankfully the internet had made its debut and we scoured the fledgling AOL for answers. Chat rooms, message boards, and forums were how we learned. Along the way we met many wonderful people. Some searching for answers, all willing to share their stories. These are the brave people who worked, despite the stigma of Hep C, educating others and becoming medical guinea pigs. Without them there may have been little advancement in testing or treatment. They deserve our everlasting thanks. They are the faces of Hepatitis C.
Today, people still search for answers. Hepatitis C has been put on a back burner and the virus is continuing to spread. It needs to be talked about, it needs to be brought out in the open. Only then can we stop it and work towards a cure.
I’m starting here. I’m starting now.