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Fear is not a good reason to avoid hepatitis C (HCV) treatment. As a nurse, I witnessed the crippling power of fear. It is a universal story. Patients told me about their anxieties and why they didn’t want to undergo HCV treatment. Some held tight to their stories for years. Yet, every patient who let go and took the plunge told me that the fear of treatment far exceeded the reality of it.

Here is a true story to illustrate this point.  A patient called me periodically, looking for a holistic cure for HCV. She’d tell me she was going to stick with natural medicine and why she was not going to put those toxic poisons into her body; I listened patiently. After all, her health is her business and her choice.

One day she was telling me again about how she didn’t want to put those poisons in her body. However, I don’t think of medicine as poison. I told her that words are powerful. If she labeled HCV medications as poisonous, then of course she wouldn’t want to try them. Who would want to deliberately take poison? For me, I saw HCV drugs as the way to cure a disease. In my heart, they were sacred and healing, no less powerful than herbs used by shamans.

A month later, she started HCV treatment. A year later she was free of the virus and became an ardent supporter of treatment.  I heard her speak at support group meetings, confessing her fear and distrust of Western medicine, followed by a discussion of her transformation. She said what I’ve heard many say—that what she imagined was worse than the actual treatment.

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