Surviving hepatitis C
A Canadian woman, Marsha Lecour and author details her experience with and survival from Hepatitis C and what lead he to write her first book.
In 1957, as a young child at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, I required a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery. The blood transfu- sion was administered and the surgery turned out to be very successful. But, little did I know, the blood transfusion contained tainted blood.
Fast forward to the mid 1980’s. During a routine medical appointment, my family physician requested that I go for blood work at a local lab. He noticed something unusual, so he referred me to a hepatologist (liver specialist). During my appointment with the hepatologist, I was told that I had “non-A non-B hepatitis.” In other words, I had hepatitis C.
I was surprised and asked several questions about this new diagnosis. During our conversation, he told me that I would probably require a liver transplant down the road. This form of hepatitis is a virus that causes deterioration to the liver over time and can potentially lead to cirrhosis and cancer.
I asked for more details and he told me that his research team was conduct- ing research on pig livers for transplant purposes. I am a committed vegetarian—and have been for many years. The thought of having a pig’s liver inside me made me want to gag. There was no way this was going to happen to me. I knew that it could possibly save my life, but there had to be another way.
In the fall of 2013, I had an appointment with hepatologist Dr. Jordan Feld in Toronto, which involved an ultra-sound and routine blood work. This appointment was different. Until then, he had always mentioned that he would continue to monitor the functioning of my liver. This time, my back was against the wall. He told me that I had no choice: treatment was now my only option.
During 48 weeks of therapy with three different medications that finished in April 2014, I experienced many side effects including depression, hair loss, anemia and nausea. Miraculously, three years later after treatment, I was cured of hepatitis C.
What is hepatitis C?
The liver performs more than 500 functions in the body. It removes harmful chemicals from the blood, fights infections, helps digest food and stores energy. Hepatitis C attacks the liver with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), gradually damaging the liver over a long period of time. One can contract hepatitis chronic infection by coming into contact with blood that contains the virus, which gets inside the blood-stream, infecting the liver.
Hepatitis C is a global health issue affecting nearly 170 million people. Approximately 250,000 Canadians are infected and 110,000 of those live in Ontario. Approximately 75% of people who are infected develop chronic infection while about 25% will clear the infection on their own.
A new cure for hepatitis C?
Until recently, there was no known cure for this infectious virus. But now, there is a proven cure with a cure rate of approximately 95% during a 12-week treatment period.Feld is the lead researcher for sofos-buvir-velpatasvir, a fixed dose combination medication for hepatitis C treatment.
“This drug regimen changes the standard of care in treating patients with HCV. We can now cure almost everyone with a very simple treatment,” he said. “This is truly a one-size-fits-all treat- ment that is easy to administer and is extremely well-tolerated. Our challenge now is getting treatment to those who need it. Over half of people living with hepatitis C remain undiagnosed.”
Author: Marsha Lecour, MEd. is the award-winning author of The Book of Hepatitis C: 7 Simple Strategies to Shift from Surviving to Thriving after Hepatitis C. As a health mentor, Marsha teaced and inspired others to reclaim their health to thrive fully with less stress, increased productivity and more fun.