‘You only have one liver’
I was officially diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) in January 2012, but had been treated for it since August 2011. It was completely unexpected. Needless to say it turned my life upside down; it was scary. Especially when you're told the worst case is a liver transplant! I had to undergo a liver biopsy and countless blood tests and scans to determine my condition. My treatment has unpleasant side effects; steroids can be horrible, resulting in a bloated face and knocking my confidence. Immunosuppressants carry risks, I have a very low immune system, so am at high risk of infection – a common cold can be extremely serious.
When I reached my first anniversary of becoming ill, I wanted to mark it so decided to fundraise for the British Liver Trust. In particular, highlighting awareness of non-alcohol related liver disease, and also research into AIH, where the cause is unknown and there is no known cure. So I have been fundraising with my mum – with cake sales, jam making and all sort of wonderful ways to raise money! And now we’re fundraising and training for an 8 day trek (in November 2013) from Havana to Trinidad (a UNESCO site).
If I tell someone I have liver disease I have to explain I’m not an alcoholic; the assumption is that liver disease is only caused by alcohol abuse. This is not the case; this is a really important message. I’m amazed British Liver Trust is the only adult liver charity, another reason I want to fundraise. I think ‘Love Your Liver’ month was fantastic and key in getting a message out that people need to look after it. As my mum says "You only have one liver!" Visit my page www.justgiving.com/marina-barlow and donate today. If you, like me, would like to trek and raise awareness and funds for this worthy cause please get in touch with them, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (marina has raised over £3,000 in total for her trek and from her cake sales and other activities).