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Resilience Amidst Challenges from Hep C: Liver Disease

The people that I have met in my hepatitis C (hep C) journey (and have had the honor to call my friends) are without question some of the most amazing people one could meet. It is not that they have any super-human abilities, or are any better or worse than anyone else, that would be arrogant and wrong. In this article I discuss the resilience I have witnessed many friends have shown in battle hep C liver disease.

Difficult health battles

Watching both my parents deal with cancer and other difficult health battles exposed me to the resilience that people have. Facing terrible odds of survival, I witnessed their ability to fight back. In saying goodbye to my mother three times over a period of years before we lost her, it showed me that we should never give up until we can’t fight anymore. She never did, despite two rounds of cancer and numerous other battles with her health.

Hep C liver disease: Cirrhosis

Several of my friends in the hep C community have cirrhosis or stage four fibrosis. For people who are not familiar with the staging of fibrosis in the liver, it is a scale for determining the level of damage to liver tissue. Fibrosis stage zero is indicative of no damage to tissue, while stages 1-3 mean progressively more damage and stage four is cirrhosis. Fibrosis can occur in other tissue and is not unique to the liver, but cirrhosis as a term is specific to the liver. It is not necessarily the end of the road, nor does it predict an absolute prognosis or trajectory.

I have witnessed people rallying from the brink and going on to have the quality of life improvements that were not predicted, and this is why I always talk about hope. Hope is not always easy when you feel so sick you can’t believe you can make it another hour, or day, and I get it. Not everyone who has hep C will have cirrhosis, it is not inevitable for everyone. If you don’t, you may have other challenges in your health thanks to hep C, and some of them can pose great challenges.

We are STRONG!

Resilience is something we all possess in varying degrees. Some of the differences can be attributed to our genetic makeup, trauma, life experiences, other illness (comorbidity), while some are just unknown. We don’t know every answer to every question, even though we have learned much about the effects of hep C and how some of us respond to living with the virus. There remain questions yet unanswered, and surely, some questions unasked or thought of.

The fact is that we cannot always predict how well we can recover and heal once cured of hep C, but we do know that we can do much better without the virus attacking our liver, our body, and our quality of life. This is where resilience comes into play I believe, and we are in my view, far more resilient than we might always imagine and that gives me hope for you and for us all.

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