I’ve agreed to be available to Hepatitis Australia as a national media spokesperson this year for National Hepatitis Awareness Week 2010. As I’ve said, I’m passionate about hepatitis C and I believe that it’s important to have people who are prepared to be open and honest about their hepatitis, so I put my name forward.
I got an email from Rachel, the Media and Communications Officer from Hepatitis Australia, with the consent form attached. There were boxes to tick. Do I agree to use my real name? Do I consent to my photo being used? Am I available for print media, or radio and television?
I must say I was surprised at the struggle that went on inside me. Here I am on this site and other websites, using my real name and my photo, so what's the problem?
It felt similar to when I first decided to disclose my hepatitis C status. I remember the first public forum I went to, when I was still in the middle of my treatment. I cautiously entered the room, quite nervous about who I would see and, more importantly, who would see me. What I found was a group of ‘normal’ people, just like me. Some were on treatment, while some had completed treatment and hadn’t been successful, at the time an outcome I couldn’t fathom. I left there feeling like I wasn’t such an outcast and that maybe it was okay to have hep C.
I started telling people about my hepatitis, about the treatment and what it is like to go through it. I learned how to answer the sticky questions that made me uncomfortable. I decided it was okay to tell people that they were asking me questions I didn’t want to answer. What surprised me was the number of people who then told me that they also had hep C, or their sister did or their mum did or their neighbour did.
I have decided to be brave and tick all the boxes. I am a normal person and I have hepatitis C. Bring it on.