Riverdale Advocate

Well-Read

Love Your Liver: Get Tested for Hepatitis C

Two years after treatment, I am cured of Hepatitis C

By Marsha Lecour

The Book of Hepatitis C           I am the author of the book "The Book of Hepatitis C: 7 Simple Strategies to Shift from Surviving to Thriving After Hepatitis C" which was launched in June. It is a how-to- manual for others to reclaim their health by following the master blueprint outlined in the book.

The book is available on Amazon.

I am available to support others in the hepatitis C community through group mentoring and one on one mentoring. Here is the website for more information.

— Marsha Lecour

As a young child in February 1957 during open heart surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children, I required a blood transfusion. A blood transfusion was administered and the surgery was a complete success. But the blood transfusion contained tainted blood.

When I was an adult, during an annual medical appointment, the family physician requested that I go for routine blood work at a local lab. I completed the blood work, got the results from my doctor. He noticed something unusual with the results, so he referred me to a liver doctor (hepatologoist).

"Marsha, your blood work results indicate that you have non A non B hepatitis," stated the hepatologist. I was stunned and asked all kinds of questions about this new diagnosis. One part of the entire conversation really left a lasting impression on me that day. He told me that I would require a liver transplant later on down the road. This form of hepatitis is a virus that causes deterioration to the liver over time.

I asked him to go into more detail about the possible liver transplant. He told me that his research team was conducting research on pigs' livers for transplant purposes.

I am a committed vegetarian. The thought of having a pig's liver inside me made me gag. There was no way this was going to happen to me. I know that it could possibly save my life, but there had to be another way.

Marcha LecourIn the fall of 2013, I had a regular appointment with hepatologist Dr. Jordan Feld at the Toronto General Hospital.

I had the routine blood work and ultrasound for this visit. But this routine visit was different. Up to now, he always mentioned that he would continue to monitor the functioning of my liver. This time he told me in no uncertain terms that I had basically had no choice: I had to take treatment.

During and after 48 weeks of triple therapy with three different medications that finished in April 2014, I experienced many side effects like depression, hair loss, anemia and nausea.

However, I am very grateful that I found the grit to make it through the challenges of the treatment. If I had quit, I would not have been cured. Two years later after treatment, I am happy to say that I am cured of Hepatitis C.

The liver is the organ that removes harmful chemicals from the blood, fights infections, helps digest food and stores energy. It performs more than 500 functions for the body.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that attacks the liver with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and causes damage to the liver over a long period of time.

One can contract hepatitis C when that person comes into contact with blood that contains the virus and it gets inside the bloodstream. As a result of this, it infects the liver and causes liver damage.

It is believed that 250,000 Canadians are living with this virus, half of which are unaware and undiagnosed.

Dr. Jordan Feld, a hepatitis C specialist at Toronto General Hospital's liver clinic, said "Testing is easy".

"Everyone should do it," he said. "If you don't have hepatitis C, then you'll know that you're OK. If you do have hepatitis C, we can treat it. The key is that we catch it early before it irreparably damages the liver." Feld said, "Too much damage may be done if you wait for symptoms to appear before being tested."

There is a big push for those born between 1945 and 1970 to get tested, the baby boomers. It is a simple blood test covered by OHIP that you can request from your family doctor.

Once your condition is diagnosed, the treatment is normally 12 weeks with a cure rate of 95% and higher.

UFCW