Diary of the Hepc Wonder Drugs

Above the Din

Labar Laskie
Illustrated by Lona Powell

In 1999, a 49-year-old woman tended her garden in a Chicago suburb. She had family, friends, and a job that she loved. Life didn’t get any better than this. A phone call changed everything.

A random test had just revealed that she had hepatitis C. Not only did she have it, she’d had it for 30 years – from a 1969 blood transfusion. Her liver was engulfed in chronic active liver disease – almost cirrhotic. In ’99 hepatitis C was a degenerative, deadly disease.

The only treatment on offer had less than a 50% chance for cure and came with nasty side effects. It was a yearlong regimen of chemotherapy that could trigger flu-like symptoms. Patients who didn’t respond could subsequently find themselves immunocompromised and sicker than before. The “wonder drugs” were still a long way off. But something had to be done.

While waiting 15 years for a cure, Labar Laskie took extraordinary measures – except the chemotherapy – to keep her symptoms at bay, calm her fears, and lift her spirits. Above the Din is her story.