After all, undergoing treatment is no small thing, especially if you've been diagnosed with genotype 1 of the virus.
Conventional treatment requires a commitment of no less than 48 weeks with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Then there are the numerous side effects, ranging from mild to moderate, that for some people can be a really big problem. Factor in the cost, the disruption to daily life and the possibility of needing to take sick time away from work and other important commitments, and choosing to move forward with treatment might not seem like such a good idea.
After all, the odds are in our favor that we will die from something other than Hepatitis C if we choose to do nothing.
But with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of two new direct acting antiviral (DAA) medications this past May, Hepatitis C treatment is starting to look a whole lot different. Some of the benefits include treatment time being cut in half to a much more manageable 24 weeks. Plus doctors have new tools to tailor treatment to each individual patient. These new treatments also come with the risk that the virus could become resistant to the medicine if it is not taken properly, as well as some new medication side effects.
It's a lot to wrap your mind around, all in the pursuit of getting a sustained virologic response (SVR.) Thankfully, we have help navigating this brave new world from Lucinda Porter's newly released book Free From Hepatitis C: Your Complete Guide to Healing Hepatitis C.
I finished reading her book over the weekend and I highly recommend it to people living with Hepatitis C and their caregivers. Ms. Porter's book reads like a warm and caring pep talk. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear at this moment, as I find myself anticipating the start of my own Hepatitis C treatment at the beginning of 2012. She helped me put into perspective my choice to move forward and allowed me to let go of my fears and anxieties about making it through treatment.
In addition to providing basic information about Hepatitis C infection and an overview of the new treatment regiment that now includes DAAs, the main focus of the book is solid advice about how to successfully approach treatment. It covers topics like managing physical and psychological side effects, following your drug protocol and talking to your medical provider about treatment. It also provides strategies for managing your work life, personal life and finding the support you need to bolster you through treatment. There is even an entire chapter devoted to what to do when your Hepatitis C treatment is over, information I hadn't encountered before but I am so grateful to have now.
As a nurse who has helped patients get through treatment, as well as being a person who lives with Hepatitis C herself and has gone through treatment, Ms. Porter's book is filled with encouraging stories and helpful insights that make this more than just a health reference book. She helps the reader see Hepatitis C treatment as a journey that can help heal body, mind and spirit. She truly believes that the experience has numerous benefits besides just obtaining a SVR, a.k.a. a cure. After reading her book, I agree.
This book will be my companion through my own Hepatitis C treatment. With so much good advice, I can see myself referring back to this book time and again to answer specific questions, review coping strategies and gently remind myself of why making the choice to treat my Hepatitis C is both important and worthwhile.
The experience of reading this book also helped me get back in touch with my appreciation for nurses. During my cancer treatment, it was the nurses that took care of me when I was in the hospital that really helped me get through my treatments. I have found that same kind of support fills the pages of Ms. Porter's book.