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Michele's story

Photo - Michelle Michele was diagnosed in 2003. It took her by surprise as she had hoped she would be in the small minority of people who clear the virus spontaneously, but when the second test results came in she had to face up to the news and the realisation that she had probably had the virus for over 30 years . “I had to learn about this obscure and potentially fatal disease…

My consultant had a sense of urgency as I was rushed to have an ultrasound test… more bad news…. my liver had quite a lot of scarring and then I was sent for a CT scan to check for cancer, they found nodules on the surface of my liver, but no cancer”.

Following a biopsy Michele was told that she had advanced liver damage but as she had Genotype 3a her chance of being clear of the virus through treatment was around 80%. Her consultant offered her treatment immediately. ‘That day will stay in my mind forever. I stopped drinking alcohol on the spot. It seemed like a life or death decision. No one could quantify my life expectancy without the therapy’. She was still apprehensive about treatment after reading about the side effects on the internet and at that time she had was unaware of any support groups or people with hepatitis C whom she could discuss it with.

”Friends and family were very supportive but I felt like I was being asked to put my life on hold for 6 months – feeling very sick, depressed and weak didn’t appeal to me at all and I was concerned my work, studies and financial situation would all suffer”. She decided to prepare herself mentally and chanted (she is a Buddhist) and did all she could to prepare and reorganise her life to cope with the possibility that she may not be able to work.“I learned to reserve my energy for the essentials only – the first month was the worst, I had fever, headaches, loss of appetite and concentration, depression and fatigue…I settled into a slower pace of life which enabled me to work and study…”. On Mondays and Tuesdays after each weekly injection she would have fever, headaches and concentration problems. ‘My motto is never dwell on the pain and to just get on with things’.

Michele started a university project using photographs of people with hepatitis C – some of which are featured in this section. Following that she was approached by the Department of Health to be the official photographer for their "FaceIt" public awareness campaign.

Michele cleared the virus on treatment and continues to work as a photographer click here to visit her website

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