Catherine had been living with hepatitis C for over a decade when she first came to Waverley Care. She recently got the all clear following hepatitis C treatment. We caught up with her to hear about her experience of living with the condition, the support she has gained from Waverley Care and her plans for the future.
Can you tell us about when you first found out you were living with hepatitis C?
It was around 2005, I was getting support through the charity, Turning Point, and they suggested I go for a test.
I remember going to the doctor for a blood test and being told that I had hepatitis C. At the time, I wasn’t really told that much about it, there was no information or anything like that.
What were the main challenges you faced as a result of your diagnosis?
I’ve been in and out of hospital a lot and, for a long time, I was always told I was alright in terms of the hepatitis C. I’ve had a few issues with mental health though and, because of that, my doctors never thought that I was quite ready to go through treatment.
I found it really difficult telling people about my hepatitis C, particularly my family. There’s still a lot of negativity about it and the reaction I got when I told people wasn’t always good. I just started to keep it to myself.
Then, a couple of years ago, I ended up in the hospital for about 14 weeks. There were a lot of toxins in my body and it was the first time that the damage to my liver really became clear. My doctors looked at options for treatment, and I was able to start in early 2018.
When did you first become involved with Waverley Care?
It was when I came out of hospital a couple of years ago. The nurse I was working with had remembered me from previous times in hospital. She spoke to my drug worker who put a referral in to Waverley Care. I didn’t know anything about the organisation before that.
What kind of support did Waverley Care offer?
A huge thing has been support going to hospital. Having someone from Waverley Care with me at appointments has made things a lot easier – if I’ve not understood something the doctor’s told me, I’ve been able to turn to Waverley Care to ask them.
They’ve also helped me to get me out of the house, joining in lots of activities and groups, and meeting other people living with hepatitis C. Knowing there are other people in the same boat as you, and hearing their stories, is a big help.
Is there anything about your time working with Waverley Care that sticks out in the memory?
I just feel that if they weren’t there, it would be a space in my life. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got on your mind, you can always talk to them about it.
You recently found out that you’ve cleared hepatitis C. How did that feel?
My first thought was actually worry, because I didn’t want to lose support from Waverley Care, but when I found out that support would still be there, I was glad that I cleared it.
I know that I won’t have to go through it all again – I was worried that I would because I didn’t completely finish treatment.
I’m glad that I don’t have that label anymore. As someone who has hep C. I hated always having to talk about it to doctors and nurses, and how it made me feel.
‘I’m glad that I finally took the step to do it, I still feel unwell but at least I don’t have hep C now.
What would you say to someone who was considering supporting Waverley Care?
I would say to do it, because it is a great organisation. I know they do so much for a lot of people and I’m glad that they’re there.
You’ve taken part in art groups through Waverley Care. Can you tell us a little more about them and how you’ve found it?
Although I wouldn’t describe myself as an artist, I really enjoyed getting involved.
I like to make canvases as a way to break up my day, especially at times when I’m stuck in the house or worrying about things. You can start on one and, before you know it, hours have passed. I’ve done a few for Waverley Care that include quotes I find inspiring.
It’s something that takes my mind away from the things that are going on in my life and it lets me focus on something positive.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve always been an outdoor type of person and, when I was younger, I was involved in things like canoeing and abseiling. Over the last few years, my health hasn’t been that great but I’d love to get back in to things like that.
I need to build up my fitness again. A couple of years ago, I did a 14-week training course at Hampden, working with the Scottish national team’s physios. I got to meet the Scotland team which was great.
At Waverley Care, I’ve really enjoyed joining the walking group and getting out and about around Glasgow.
What’s your favourite film or TV programme?
Favourite film is definitely The Sixth Sense. In terms of TV, I love Big Brother!
What’s your favourite food?
You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Curries! I’ve not had a curry in ages.
What three items could you not live without?
I’d say, my mobile phone, a bottle of juice and my spare socks! I used to be homeless years ago, and you’d wear an extra pair of socks to keep warm. I don’t know why but it’s something I still do to this day.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to find a way to use my experiences to help people who are in similar circumstances. I’d love to get involved in volunteering when I’m well enough. Maybe helping out at recovery cafes or something like that.
Who inspires you?
I’d say Claire [Waverley Care’s Community Projects Manager in Glasgow]. I feel as if she’s been hugely supportive since I’ve been here.