Woman fighting to raise awareness of Hepatitis C | NevadaAppeal.com

Woman fighting to raise awareness of Hepatitis C

Becky Bosshart
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Sandy Curl is the leader of the hepatitis C support group. She advocates for awareness of the disease and free testing for the needy.

Sandy Curl’s liver doctor told her she has from three to five years to live. The Carson City woman said before she goes, if she has to go at all, she wants to tell people why she is dying.

“But I’m going to beat the odds,” Curl said. “I got something I have to say before I go. I got awareness to get out there.”

She wants to leave a legacy of work. Curl wants her granddaughter, due this week, to remember her. She wants attention given to her disease. Maybe the politicians could pass legislation for free hepatitis C testing for the needy, Curl said.

But every day she wakes up with the fatigue and memory loss caused by hepatitis C. She’s unemployed. She has cirrhosis and a blood clotting disorder. Curl, 50, has never responded to treatment. The father of her son died last year of hepatitis C and cirrhosis. Her eyes watered when she talked about him. He will never get to see his grand baby.

Curl, the leader of the Carson City hepatitis C support group, is throwing her time into organizing the Nevada LiverWalk in Reno on Saturday. She’s walking for herself and for Newton Yeager, her son’s father.

Curl is proud of the support group. She said she’s learned more there than from any doctor.

Curl said the government and Medicare hasn’t given much attention to people who have hepatitis C. Sometimes those who have the disease don’t even want to admit it.

She said it has a reputation akin to AIDS. Drug users catch it from sharing needles. But the disease has also been diagnosed in those who had blood transfusions before 1992, before hospitals screened for it, or organ transplants before 1990. There are other ways to catch it: unprotected sex, using the toothbrush of an infected person, getting exposed to infected blood. Curl was diagnosed in 2001 but she’s probably had it for about 30 years.

“I had a transfusion when I was 5 and I did use drugs when I was younger, but I still don’t know where I got it,” Curl said.

She wears a gold cross around her neck. The gold chain was sent to her by a relative in New York City. She received the chain Sept. 11, which makes it even more special to her. On her flower-print shirt are two pins, one promotes organ donation, the other said: “Love your Liver.”

Curl said she could receive a liver transplant, but they don’t come until you are about to die. And she’d have to quit smoking. She looked into her black purse. Curl has one pack of cigarettes left. She declared: “I don’t think I’m going to buy anymore.”

“I feel God is keeping me going to do this,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing the right thing to stay and fight.”

Contact Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.