A New Start: Life after Hep C
With the passing of each moment, day, month and year, we have a renewed opportunity to start renewed. New and renewed does not necessarily mean that we become an all-new person, or all our troubles and triumphs are suddenly nothing at all; That is not my point.
Getting treatment for hep C
We mark the days until, or after, as symbols of accomplishment, or as failings in some instances. I can recall counting down the days in treatment for hep C, because it was a significant and monumental landmark for me. It symbolized, for me, an end to one part of my journey with the virus that had ravaged me for years. Unlike many, I was one of the unfortunate ones who did have symptoms; They were life-altering in the way they robbed me of so much happiness and comfort in my days.
Finishing treatment and being cured
So, you can see why that landmark day - the end of hep C treatment - stands out in my journey. I know I am not alone in this experience, and even if you had no symptoms of hep C, it is likely that many of you have a similar feeling about the day, whether you are in treatment or treated years ago like me. Later, reaching SVR (cured) was pretty darn special too! Both of these milestones stand out for me. But there were several others, and some setbacks along the way as well.
The hep C community
With each of these moments, I think there was that opportunity for renewal in a way. I will never forget when I first spoke to someone who themselves had lived experience, and what it felt like to hear how their experience mirrored much of my own then. This kind of shared experience was always an important part of my hep C journey, from that moment on to now. The time spent around others like me, with lived experience, is special to me in ways that can only be compared to family and community. It is the love and support, information and knowing, that makes it so important to my life in hep C work and beyond.
We can all have our own version of what renewal or a new start can look like; After all, at the end of the day, we are all uniquely different in a long list of ways, but we do share in some things that bind us. Whether it is the pain and suffering, struggles to get the care we need, or in the joy in which we celebrate each other’s triumphs, we share in much. This is the basis and core of what lived experience gives us. We do not have to be experts on hep C, and after all, we are not all physicians or healthcare professionals. We have a unique perspective that only comes from the struggles and the triumphs I mentioned. I choose to see this as a positive, and something we can use in our life after. These challenges have the potential to make us stronger, and the ability for renewal that we have developed, is our strength.