It’s OFFICIAL! I survived Hepatitis C!
Well it’s finally official. It’s been an incredibly long year and it feels surreal saying it … “My 48 week treatment to battle Hepatitis C is now completed”. What a great feeling!
For those of you who don’t know – I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C approximately 14 years ago. I had no idea that I had it. We discovered it when I suddenly developed an infection that was caused by the Hepatitis C. I freaked out! WTF? Hepatitis C? No way! How? What? Yeah…
I was absolutely devastated and it became the focus of my entire life. (Plus I was sick). My life sucked! I didn’t realize it then but having Hepatitis C affected my quality of life in so many ways. I lived in constant pain that I thought was caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was actually disabled from it. I couldn’t work. My Doctor told me that once the Hepatitis C was treated I’d feel better. (I didn’t believe him – but he was right)!
After being tracked down by my personal Nurse (Fiona) I was finally convinced that I needed treatment. I’ll never forget the first day of my FIRST round of treatment. Fiona cried. When I asked her why she told me that they hadn’t expected me to survive. Surprise!
Well I did the first treatment which was 6 months long. At the end of that treatment I was proclaimed ‘Virus Free’. When I went for my follow-up post-treatment appointment it was discovered that I was one of the rare patients that treatment didn’t take for. I was no longer virus-free and I needed more treatment.
That was definitely one of the most devastating days of my life. I remember seeing my amazing nurse Fiona as I arrived at the clinic that day – (she was acting really weird) and I understood after I got the bad news. I think she was almost as upset as I was. But dammit – I was determined to get rid of this damn virus! I told my wonderful Hepatologist (Dr. Wong) – let’s not waste time – let’s get this done. I’m ready! And thus began an entire 48 weeks of treatment – again. Thank God my Mom was with me that day! I don’t think I could have driven home. She’s so good at turning me around. While I was choking back sobs and having difficulty breathing – Mom was giving me the ‘Pep Talk’ of her life. (Thanks Mom).
I couldn’t have survived this past year without the help and support of my family. Especially my daughter Samantha who made my care the focus of her entire life. But I do have to also give credit to my other two amazing children – Eddy & Seka who dealt with my ‘craziness’ and did their best help me through it. (These meds really mess your head up – but KNOWING it is all part of the battle). And my hair fell out – not all of it – but most of it. You can whine about it or you can embrace it. I choose to embrace it. I’ve actually had a lot of fun funky new hair styles. (You’ll see at the end of this blog post).
Why I am public about Hepatitis C
I had someone ask me ‘Why are you public about having Hepatitis C? You shouldn’t talk about it so publicly’. My answer? It’s an epidemic with a terrible stigma attached to it that people don’t want to talk about. 1 in 12 people world-wide have some form of Hepatitis and most don’t know it. It’s a deadly disease that WILL kill you if you don’t get treated. More than 350,000,000 people die each year from Hepatitis C. It affects your quality of life! Once treated, it’s amazing how much better you feel overall! But even more importantly – Hepatitis is being spread at epidemic proportions! If you have it – you can easily infect your family, friends and complete strangers! Have you ever received blood or an organ transplant prior to 1992? You could have caught the virus there. Have you ever been to a nail salon for a manicure or pedicure? You could catch it there! Have you ever been to a hair salon? You could catch it there. Have you ever been pierced at the mall? You could catch it there. Have you ever had a tattoo? You could catch it there. Have you ever used someone else’s toothbrush, nail clippers, manicure scissors, nail file? Those are all items that can transfer the Hepatitis C virus. And yes – we all know Hepatitis C is spread through drug use as well. You need to go get checked! It’s a simple blood test and there IS a cure!
MOST importantly – the reason that I have been so vocal is to give courage to those who are afraid to talk about it or to go for the treatment. See me! I survived! I’m not gonna lie to you – it wasn’t easy. It took work. But if I can do it – so can YOU!
Look at me! I DON’T fit the stigma surrounding Hepatitis C! I’m a respectable Mother, friend, and successful business woman living among contributing members of society. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of! You hold your head high & you OWN IT! I did and I’m so glad that you were with me on this journey!
Thank you to all of you for your kind and supportive words throughout my treatment this last year! You have no idea how much they helped! I am truly blessed – and I am cured!
Now on to my ‘Thank you’ list …
To my son Eddy
Thank you for emailing & calling me almost every day and coming all the way to my house to order pizza and show me how much you love me by spending time with me when the depression from the meds got a temporary hold on me and I needed to see my son. You’re wonderful for doing that. I love you!
To my daughter Seka
Thank you for smiling sweetly and letting me rant senselessly. For nodding quietly and saying, “I know it’s just the meds”. Thank you for making me juiced cannabis smoothies almost every morning and for cooking me all those eggs and lunches to ensure that I was eating even though I wasn’t hungry. I love you!
To my daughter Samantha
Thank you for taking the time off work to sit in the hospital with me for hours and hours! Thank you for taking care of me through all the awful infections and making sure that my ointments were applied. I know how awful that was for you and I know how much you worried. I can’t imagine having survived that without your help! I love you!
Thank you to both my girls for doing all the heavy lifting, carrying all the groceries, taking out all the garbage bags, lifting the heavy kitty litter boxes, and doing everything for me that I couldn’t do for myself throughout this treatment! I love you!
To my parents – Nancy & Ed
Dad, thanks for cutting the lawn for me and staying quiet when you were unimpressed about the upkeep of the yard because you understood I was doing my best. Mom, thank you for coming over and cooking and coming to the Doctor with me – every single appointment last time! Wow! Thanks most of all for just being with me through this and giving me strength. It’s impossible to name everything that you’ve done to help me through this. I missed you both so much when you were gone and I’m so blessed to have such wonderful parents.
To my friend Brenda
I don’t think you realize how much support you gave me through this. Thank you for going out of your way to bring me the cream that worked for Adam. Thank you for your many messages and tea. Thank you for bringing me that awesome heating pad that Vanessa was so kind to buy for me. Mostly Brenda, thank you for knowing how much Adam’s Prayer Blanket would mean to me during this time – and I can’t end without thanking you for Adam E C Cardinal. Whenever I started to feel like it was too much, I just remembered his strength and courage and imagined him ‘coaching’ me on. Thank you. I’m so blessed to have you as my friend and I look forward to our long friendship in the future!
To my friend Vanessa
Thank you too! Thank you for the heating blanket. That was so thoughtful of you to go out of your way to buy that for me and it sure helped! Thank you for thinking of me as the recipient of your brother’s prayer blanket. I will cherish it always. Thank you for all your messages and the sushi dates. You don’t know what it meant to me to have your support!
And Minnow and Lainey – my best friends. You two have both been a constant support!
‘Lainey’ – you dropped everything and raced over here when I was beyond my limit with the side-effects. You were just what I needed. You also gave me the perfect ‘send-off’ just before treatment started. That party was enough to sustain me for an entire year without a drink! Lol!
‘Minnow’ – your visits to the city and our sleep-overs were just enough to make me feel almost normal when I was too exhausted to go out to visit any of my friends. You were a constant throughout and your visits (even though I was uncertain I could handle a visitor) were just what I needed.
Douglas Lampi, my dear friend and Mentor.
You were the first person I told that the Hepatitis C was back. I suppose that’s the day that our relationship crossed over from business to real friendship. You sat quietly and let me ball my eyes out. You listened patiently to my self-pity and quickly rebutted with words of encouragement and inspiration. You took time out of your busy day to provide me with inspiring meditation, took time to research holistic remedies and you have made me a priority for the past year. I think that every single time I’ve seen you – you’ve had some remedy to give to me – and they helped! You’re an amazing friend! I cannot imagine what it would have been like to go through this without you. You gave me such inspiration and absolutely REFUSED to allow me to let any negativity seep in. You also gave me the inspiration and the courage to start my own business. I honestly cannot imagine my life without you. Thank you so much for being my friend, my mentor, my inspiration and my loudest cheering squad! You Rock!
My Nurse, Fiona
Fiona, you chased me down for years while I was in denial about having Hepatitis C. You answered all my questions, you harassed me! But above all – you cared for me. I never appreciated nurses until I met you. You showed me such care and compassion and you became my friend. I truly believe that I wouldn’t have survived if you hadn’t been so adamant about saving me. YOU are an incredible Nurse and an incredible Person. YOU deserve ‘Nurse of The Year Award’ for putting up with me! I’m so grateful that God put you in my path and I will cherish you forever. You started as my Nurse but now I call you friend. Thank you Fiona. Much Love.
I would like to end by asking for a few favors from all of you;
- If you or someone you know might be facing this disease and is afraid – send them to me. I will be happy to answer all their questions and guide them in the right direction. It will be my privilege.
- The next time you go to your Doctor, ask him to add the Hep C test to your regular blood test. You won’t even notice. But please, do it. You will then be part of the solution!
- Tell your friends & family to get tested.
- Please support The Canadian Liver Foundation Manitoba Chapter. We’re a small nonprofit organization with a massive job to do. Attend our fundraising events and help us spread the word. You can start NOW by just going and liking us on Facebook and you can hear all about our efforts there. To get to their page please click here
I hope you will consider supporting The Canadian Liver Foundation Manitoba Chapter
by ‘Liking’ their Facebook page and getting involved with their upcoming fundraising events!
And with that –
I would like to end by saying. . .
The story of how I survived Hepatitis C http://t.co/JpV3Ls6ubK
— Tina Lussier (@TinaLussier) September 23, 2013
I survived Hepatitis C