An interview with hepatitis C survivor and Think About the Link® spokesperson Alejandro Escovedo
The Prevent Cancer Foundation® recently announced Mexican-American singer/songwriter Alejandro Escovedo as a national spokesperson for the Think About the Link® campaign. This educational campaign aims to raise awareness of the connection between certain viruses (HPV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C) and cancer. You can check out our Spanish site here: www.piensaenelvinculo.org.
As a hepatitis C survivor, Escovedo is no stranger to the detrimental effects of the virus that is growing more common among the Hispanic population. An estimated 40,710 Americans will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year, and hepatitis C will cause at least 50 percent of these cases. Most people who are infected with hepatitis C don’t know it—that’s why Think About the Link® encourages all adults (especially baby-boomers) to get screened for hepatitis C, and if positive, talk to your health care provider about getting available treatment options.
In honor of Hepatitis Awareness Month, I talked to Escovedo about his experience living with hepatitis C, the impact it made on his music and the life he can live now that he is hepatitis C-cured.
Q: What attracted you to the Think About the Link® campaign?
A: The need to help spread awareness about hepatitis C and the dangers of liver cancer. This was the first campaign that I have ever heard of that’s trying to specifically reach Latinos and people of my generation who are suffering from hepatitis C. I was very ill-informed when I was first diagnosed with hepatitis C and now feel it’s very important to offer as much information as possible to those that may be shy or ashamed of having contracted this virus.
Q: What impact did your diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C have on your music?
A: Hepatitis C has had a profound impact on my music. In the beginning stages of my battle with hepatitis C, I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions and I put down my guitar for almost a year. When I finally began to feel better and started to play music again, I began to write songs about my experience with hepatitis C. My father died during my recovery phase, which put me into a deep depression. But when I started to write and play music again, I found that my writing had more weight to it. I was very honest with my fans about my experience and I treasured the music I was able to make. The music became the medicine that healed me.
Q: Tell me about the life you can live now that you are cured of the virus.
A: I feel like I have more energy, my performances have become more spirited and I treasure every waking moment. I love making music and I love my family and friends. Life is a sea of possibilities that I want to forever swim in.
Q: What have you learned about yourself though the process of being diagnosed, accepting change and being cured?
I’ve learned that you need to have faith in your ability to heal. I also did my own research to understand how I developed the virus and how to adjust my lifestyle in order to not do more harm to my body. I was fortunate enough to find trustworthy people to help me adjust my lifestyle through the wisdom and expertise of health care providers.
[Editor’s Note: Certain lifestyle behaviors can increase your risk of contracting hepatitis B or C, including having unsafe sex, injecting recreational drugs or abusing alcohol. Click here to learn how to reduce your risk of contracting hepatitis B or C.]
Q: What experiences are you looking forward to now that hepatitis C is behind you?
A: I look forward to more traveling, performing, laughing and enjoying the time I have with my wife and family.
Q: What message do you have for people who are currently living with hepatitis C?
A: Be strong. Be wise. Learn as much as you can about hepatitis C. Find people who can help you with every facet of the experience; physical, mental and spiritual. Talk to your health care professional about testing and believe in your ability to heal.