“Four years ago, having Hepatitis C was a death sentence because there was no cure yet,” related former photographer, action star, and movie producer, Derek Dee.
That was the time when he discovered he had the dreaded disease. “It was just through a routine blood test,” he shared figuring that he may have contracted it through the use of contaminated needles in his wild days, around 30 years ago.
“The thing with Hepatitis C is, the symptoms don’t show up until it is too late, until you are already very ill. One of the most common causes of liver-based sicknesses is Hepatitis C.” said Derek.
According the Word Hepatitis Alliance, about 80 to 150 million people are dealing daily with Hepatitis C but there is not much information about it available, especially in the Philippines.
That is why Derek decided to share his experiences and insights with other Hepatitis C patients and the public in general through his Facebook page, @hepcured and his website, hepcured.net.
“I had so much doubt getting into this because of the stigma. I didn’t really want to come out, I just wanted to keep quiet. But the mission came up when a friend I haven’t talked with in many years suddenly showed up and the first thing he told me was that he has Hep C and he didn’t know anything about it, he was not aware that there is a cure. Shortly after that incident, another friend got in touch with me, with the same story. That’s when I decided to speak up. It doesn’t matter what people will think of me, if my advocacy can save the lives of even a few, then it would have been worth it,” explained the father of budding model Michelle (21) and educator Maxine (22).
Derek’s life was saved by his own persistence in researching for a cure. His initial search for a solution to his illness brought him many heartaches and disappointments. The only options he found were drugs which had deadly side effects and low cure rates.
Then two years ago, a medicine with a cure rate of 94%-97% was discovered but it was prohibitively priced. So he went into the digital realm to find out his chances of getting the medicine outside the US, where the drug was priced cheaper. This led him to Singapore General Hospital Pharmacy which was willing to order the miracle drug for him at a slightly lower cost.
After getting the treatment, he is now free of the virus and is officially cured. But he realized that these drugs are not affordable and accessible to many. This started him on a virtual journey looking for generic medicines, which led him to India. There, the cost is so much less (USD1,000) than the original price of USD90,000. And now, with the new generic treatments that are very affordable and just as effective as the originals, the cure is available to all.
Derek believes that it is through constant updating and sharing of knowledge that the disease can be identified, battled, and defeated. Through HepCured, Hepatitis C patients can be part of a community of seekers for the cure, called The Cure Club. The Cure Club endeavors to search for treatments and remedies that are more accessibly priced and can be found in non-traditional sources.
Derek would like everyone to know that Hepatitis C is just a word, not a sentence. There is a way to beat it!
For more information, please click on www.hepcured.net or visit their Facebook page, @hepcured.
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