Clean bill of health

Mis­couche man cel­e­brat­ing hep­ati­tis C cure with trip to Nashville

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY COLIN MA­CLEAN Colin.Ma­cLean@Jour­nalPioneer.com @Jour­nalPMacLean

Ty Caissie, 44, is count­ing down the days un­til he gets to go to Nashville, Tenn.

Caissie re­cently cel­e­brated an im­por­tant health mile­stone, and a pil­grim­age to the heart­land of coun­try mu­sic is his re­ward for stick­ing to his treat­ments.

Af­ter liv­ing with hep­ati­tis C for most of his life, Caissie is now com­pletely free of the com­mu­ni­ca­ble, liver-at­tack­ing, virus.

“My blood is all clear. I’m happy, yeah,” said Caissie.

For the past sev­eral years Caissie has split his time be­tween Com­mu­nity Con­nec­tions in Sum­mer­side and the Mis­couche home of his brother and sis­ter-in-law, Sonny and Linda Gal­lant, who are also his le­gal guardians. Caissie has a num­ber of health prob­lems that re­quire him to have a care­taker.

Be­fore coming to P.E.I., Caissie lived most of his life in Bri­tish Columbia. It was in that prov­ince in the 1980s that he con­tracted hep­ati­tis C from a tainted blood trans­fu­sion dur­ing a spinal surgery.

There was lit­tle in the way of treat­ment op­tions avail­able at that time, and with his other health prob­lems, his doc­tors ad­vised against try­ing what op­tions were avail­able. So he lived with the virus.

Hep­ati­tis C can be com­mu­ni­ca­ble through con­tact with in­fected blood. It can cause a va­ri­ety of ail­ments and, more se­ri­ously, liver can­cer.

It wasn’t un­til 2016 that the Gal­lants found out there was a cure for the type of virus Caissie had and that the prov­ince would pay for it. P.E.I. added the drugs to its for­mu­lary in 2015, one of the few prov­inces to do so.

The treat­ment can cost be­tween $40,000 and $100,000 per pa­tient, de­pend­ing on their con­di­tion.

Linda said she can hardly be­lieve Caissie is cured.

“He’s 100 per cent clear of it,” she said.

“It’s not some­thing that comes back – it’s just gone. I’m still amazed with it; that he went from the po­ten­tial of be­ing sick as he got older to it’s gone.”

Linda said she wanted to share Caissie’s story to help spread the word that this treat­ment is out there.

Ac­cord­ing to Health P.E.I., there are about 550 Is­landers liv­ing with hep­ati­tis C in­fec­tions.

Health P.E.I. ex­pects to ef­fec­tively elim­i­nate the virus here by 2025.

Any­one who wants more in­for­ma­tion about the hep­eti­tus treat­ment pro­gram can con­tact Health P.E.I. at 902-3684947 or go on­line at www. princeed­wardis­land.ca/en/in­for­ma­tion/health-pei/hep­ati­tis-drug-pro­gram. As for Caissie, he’s aware that his blood is health­ier now – but he’s mostly just re­ally ex­cited to head for Nashville.

Hope­fully, said Linda, he’ll now have many more years of lis­ten­ing to his coun­try mu­sic he­roes.

COLIN MA­CLEAN/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Ty Caissie and his sis­ter-in-law and guardian, Linda Gal­lant, are shown in their Mis­couche home. Caissie was re­cently cured of hep­ati­tis C and plans to cel­e­brate with a trip to Nashville.

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