Source: World Hepatitis Alliance
Gloria lives in Canada.
I learned in about 2002 when I was applying for a wage loss insurance, that somewhere along in my years, I had contracted this hepatitis C. What a shock! I definitely had not been on anyone’s list of risky behaviour and had not even felt sick enough to see a Dr in over 2 years.
Then, in 2004 when I learned that my liver was already in Stage 3 – full bridging fibrosis, I began the treatment (pegylated interferon and ribavirin) in September and completed that in August 2005. However, I was to experience another major shock at that period. Although I had faithfully done 48 miserable weeks of the treatment and had shown a response in the first 3 months, it ended with the fact, that I was a non-responder. I felt devastated at the time and as much as I tried, could not find a whole lot of support or even research about what happens when a person has not responded. The whole research was definitely still too new regarding hepatitis C and so I realised that no one could actually predict what could happen in my case.
Note: Since 2016 new-generation treatments have been funded in New Zealand to treat the hepatitis C virus. These treatments have fewer side effects, a shorter treatment duration and higher cure rate than previous interferon treatments.
Then, in January 2009, I received a surprising phone call from a hepatitis C nurse that works locally, in a society that helps and supports people with the virus. She asked if I would be interested in joining a clinical trial being run out of Vancouver and that I had very little time to decide. Boy, was she right! In actual fact, I only had 4 hours and had to call Vancouver and tell them YES. However, I can never say thank you enough to this nurse for remembering me and suggesting my name in the first place. Quickly, I learned that my liver had indeed progressed to early stage cirrhosis. Thus began another journey through another 48 weeks of medication, including, the as of yet not released extra pills, along with the interferon/ribavirin. I am very very happy to say, that I learned in October 2009 that my body had reached HCV-RNA negative and that has not changed since. Hopefully, in July 2010, I will be declared as having a sustained viral response.
But, troubles were not over with my liver just yet. When I had been off the treatment a scant two weeks, my Gastroenterologist called to confirm that I did indeed have two cancer tumours on my liver. So there were days when I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and other days that I was extremely grateful that I was attending a clinic in Vancouver and that the tumours were found quickly, only because I was on the clinical trial. As of today, I am still recovering after a liver resection was performed on me on April 7th.
As of today and for the rest of my foreseeable future, I intend to live only in the positive.
© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016