Patients with liver disease shared their stories of climbing to the top of Hsuehshan (雪山, Snow Mountain) at an event held by the Liver Disease Prevention and Treatment Research Foundation to commemorate World Hepatitis Day yesterday.
According to the foundation, hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, which in turn is responsible for the majority of deaths from cancer in men Taiwan and is the second leading cause of death from cancer for women.
In a bid to promote liver disease prevention measures, the foundation has held a series of lectures and free liver disease screening sessions nationwide this month, as well as setting up the event for liver disease patients to climb Hsuehshan earlier this month.
Foundation chairperson Yang Pei-ming (楊培銘) said four patients — two of whom have had a liver transplant, one of whom is a hepatitis B carrier and another who has acute fulminating hepatitis — participated in the event, adding that the experience of slowly climbing to the top of the mountain one step at a time mirrored the process of conquering their diseases.
Aside from the four patients, the mountain climbing team was composed of four doctors and three mountain guides, who together took four days to reach the summit.
“On the way down, I felt a little exhausted, but thanks to the doctor’s instructions to have two mountain guides pulling ropes ahead of and behind me, I made it safely to the goal,” liver transplant patient Huang Wei-Chieh (黃煒傑) said.
“Don’t be afraid of tough struggles, and you will surely reach your life goals,” Huang said.
“I hope all patients with liver disease can keep fighting and at last you will become a winner,” said Sun Dao-jie (孫道傑), who suffered from hepatitis B and liver cancer and has also undergone a liver transplant.
Sun encouraged people with early symptoms of liver disease to seek treatment as soon as possible and listen to the doctor’s instructions.
“The liver is a silent organ,” she added, referring to the difficulty of discovering liver disease at an early stage.
This is due to the liver not being linked to pain-sensitive neurons, the foundation said, adding that if people with chronic hepatitis fail to do routine follow-ups, they often end up being diagnosed with serious liver disease or cancer when it is already too late.
The foundation encouraged everyone to submit to blood screening to first determine if they have hepatitis B or C; and if they test positive, to do viral load testing and an abdominal ultrasound exam, in addition to blood tests, at least once every half year.