In October 2014 my mother passed away after a very brief and completely unexpected battle with a liver disease called Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). She was only 62 years old, and had only been diagnosed 6 weeks prior to passing. Like most people I had never even heard of the disease that took her from us.
For a long time afterwards I struggled with grief, guilt, and a complete feeling of helplessness. I’m the kind of person that takes action, fixes things, and finds a solution. For really the first time in my adult life I’d faced a situation where there was nothing I could do to help Mom.
And so I started looking for things to do to help others. I researched NASH and other liver diseases and learned as much as I could. I found out that over 90 million American’s are afflicted with NAFLD Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and that more than a third of them would progress to NASH. I read articles that showed NASH becoming the leading cause for adults being placed on liver transplant lists, surpassing Hep C. It’s a preventable health crisis that will soon compete with Cancer and Heart Disease as the leading causes of death for Americans, and yet doesn’t get more than a blip in the press.
I ultimately decided that I couldn’t merely read and learn about the disease that took my mom; I had to DO something. I started out volunteering with the great folks at the American Liver Foundation, and ended up chairing their Young Professionals Committee. And now I’m writing this blog to help raise awareness and educate others.
The problem is that Liver Disease has never been a “sexy” cause. It doesn’t get pink campaign deals with the NFL or have movies made about it. And yet unlike cancer or AIDS every single person is a potential victim with a disease like NASH. You don’t need a genetic predisposition or family history. You don’t need to have a “risky” lifestyle. You just need to be overweight for a period of time.
We’ve known about the rising rates of obesity in western society for nearly my entire life. The World Health Organization declared an Obesity epidemic in 1997, over twenty years ago. Yet today, western culture is more concerned with avoiding “fat-shaming” and promoting acceptance of individual body appearances than dealing with the hard reality of obesity.
With this blog I hope to provide a centralized resource for all things NASH related. It will discuss diagnosis, treatment, awareness, and coping.