Tackling a Silent Killer – My Journey to a Cure for Hepatitis C

| June 21, 2017 | 2 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

There’s a silent killer stalking the streets and it’s actively trying to kill 3.8 million Americans. Some know they’re being stalked, but most don’t.

The killer was identified in 1989, so we know its name and what it looks like, but it wasn’t until three years ago, that a dependable way to deal with it was determined. Still, many victims are afraid to take steps to save themselves or their loved ones.

Although there are risk factors that put some people at greater danger of being attacked than others, it’s difficult to predict who the killer will strike. It does not discriminate for any reason; it attacks the rich and poor, the knowing and unknowing, all races and ages.

The killer’s name?

Hepatitis C, and I was once its victim. I learned I had it in 2003, but went merrily along my way, as it didn’t seem to affect me or my quality of life.

Suddenly, in 2009, HepC began attacking my liver, causing it to scar and gradually lose its ability to protect me. Over the next few months, my quality of life degraded until the cumulative effects of Hep C began to overwhelm me. In August of that year, things came to a head.

Hep C caused me to have massive internal bleeding, and I ended up in a coma. By the end of 2009, I had suffered three comas, cardiac arrest, been revived by CPR and spent weeks in the hospital. Fortunately, friends, family, medical professionals, and even some total strangers came to my rescue. By the end of 2009, I was placed on the national liver transplant wait list.

In my case, I probably contracted Hep C 25 years before I learned it was growing inside me. It wasn’t until it virtually destroyed my liver that I realized how dire my situation was.

The Encounter

My first counter-attack on Hep C was in 2011, when I underwent treatment for the first time, using the only treatment available then. After 48 weeks of weekly injections, daily pills and debilitating side effects, the virus quickly reasserted itself.

My next attempt at getting treatment was in 2014, when I went through an expensive new treatment with a better success rate and minimal side effects. Due to my particular genotype of Hep C (gt3), my prescribed treatment protocol lasted twice as long as normal and the side effects were minimal. Unfortunately, the results were the same, and within a short time the virus was back.

I was in the pre-op before my liver transplant surgery began, when I learned that my HepC had returned. My doctors decided to proceed with the transplant anyway.

The transplant was a success, but my fight to survive continued. Just six months post-transplant, HepC was attacking my new liver and I needed to go through treatment a third time.

I have now been declared cured, and after eight years of disability and a constant struggle to live and thrive, I am the poster child for good outcomes. I am living proof that there is hope.


I urge you to heed the warnings and recommendations of the CDC, especially if you were born between 1945-1965, and take steps to protect yourself.

  1. Get tested. A simple and inexpensive blood test will determine if you’ve ever been exposed to HepC. If so, a second blood test will confirm if the virus is actually alive inside you (a certain percentage of people are able to overcome the virus with their own immune system).


  1. Get treated. In recent years, new and greatly improved treatments have become widely available. While the cost is prohibitive and still being debated, the fact is that those treatments are very effective and have limited side effects.


  1. Get cured. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be afraid. 95% of those who follow my first two recommendations will find themselves achieving the ultimate goal.

Get tested. Get treated. Get cured.


About the Author

Dan Palmer is a member of the American Liver Foundation’s National Patient Advisory Committee and Hepatitis C advocate.



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