Thursday, February 5, 2009

Celebrating Because a Friend is Cured of Hep C

Late last year I received news from a close family friend that he is “… officially cured of Hepatitis C.”

What incredible, fabulous news! Chris discovered that he had Hep C nearly 13 years ago and recently underwent 18 months of treatment on Pegulated Interferon and Ribavirin treatment. His viral count has been zero (undetectable) for more than six months, which is the benchmark you must reach in order to be “cured.”

I’m thrilled for Chris and his family. His wife is one of my dearest friends and their family, including two busy teenaged children involved in sports, was stressed to the core during his grueling treatment. Like most other patients taking these drugs, Chris was severely fatigued, experienced weekly bouts of flu-like symptoms and suffered from symptoms of depression. In spite of all the challenges, he stuck with the treatment and, thank God, it paid off.

Since my transplant I’ve learned that they key to overcoming Hep C is to go undergo treatment before your liver becomes too damaged. I know first-hand how difficult treatment is; I first tried the treatment in 2000, as a single mom raising two children running my own business; I only lasted three weeks. It proved to be too debilitating (I felt sick the entire time and couldn’t work much; not working wasn’t an option), so I quit.

Just six years later, Hep C had damaged my liver beyond repair and a liver transplant was my only answer; without it, I would die. Five months after transplant, the virus had already damaged my new liver (I had stage 2 – 3 fibrosis) and a couple of months later I resumed the Interferon/Ribavirin treatment. Sadly, the drugs weren't effective; however, a biopsy last summer showed that the fibrosis had dropped to stage 1, but the improvement can't be directly attributed to treatment.

If you’re debating whether or not to try treatment for Hep C, DON’T WAIT! Get every bit of support you can and start Hep C treatment as soon as you can. This disease doesn’t just shorten your life – it diminishes your quality of life.

Take it from me: The alternative to Hep C treatment – a liver transplant – is nothing you want to have to undergo.


Anonymous said...

I'm very happy for your friend. I have treated with Interferon/riba, infergen/riba and maintenance. I worked through the treatment but it was very rough. I had to stop after developing a nasty staph infecdtion and almost loosing a limb.
I recently retired because of the fatigue and other symptoms. While I am waiting to see if I can get into a protease inhibitor trial, the Docs say I will need a transplant in about two years. Other than my wonderful wife I have noone to talk to about all of this. I find waiting for the big medical event to be somewhat over rated. Just not real sure what to do with myself.


I am also happy that your friend was able to beat the virus. The odds using the interferon/ribavirin treatment are tough. I survived going through a full year of treatment around 2001. It was very hard in the beginning. Sadly enough it didn't work.
I am so sorry to hear that the virus is back and is affecting your new liver.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely lucky to be cured for over 10 years. I did 3 different treatments with "the combo" being the one that worked. I agree, it was hard. I also agree that everyone with Hep C should at least give it a try.