Derek Dee was a photographer in the 80s. He was an action star and movie producer in the 90s. He was married to Melanie Marquez with whom he has two stunning daughters— budding model/actress, Michelle, and teacher based in the US, Maxine. He is Derek Dee, now a businessman and the voice behind HepCured, a digital movement that promotes awareness and treatment of Hepatitis C.
Derek Dee with daughter Michelle
Speaking from personal experience, Derek avers that, “one of the most common causes of liver-based sicknesses is Hepatitis C. According the Word Hepatitis Alliance, about 80 to 150 million people are dealing daily with Hepatitis C. In spite of such a high-risk rate, public concern and information is limited.”
He says, “the main reason people die from Hepatitis C is because symptoms don’t show up until it is too late so you don’t know that you are sick.” His own discovery of the illness was by accident. A routine blood test four years ago revealed that he had the dreaded disease. Doctors and his own research suggested that he may have contracted it through the use of contaminated needles in his younger days, around 30 years ago.
“Four years ago, having Hepatitis C was a death sentence because there was no cure yet.” His search for a solution to his illness led him on a journey that brought him many heartaches and disappointments. The only option he found were drugs which had deadly side effects and low cure rates of 50%. So he decided not to seek treatment.
Then two years ago, a medicine with a cure rate of 94%-97% was discovered but it was prohibitively priced. So he went into the digital realm to research his chances of getting the medicine outside the US where the drug was priced cheaper. This led him to Singapore General Hospital Pharmacy which was willing to order the miracle drug for him at a slightly lower cost.
After getting the treatment, he is now free of the virus and is officially cured. But he realized that these drugs are not affordable and accessible to many. This started him on another journey looking for generic medicines from India which cost so much less (USD1,000) than the original price of USD90,000. And now, with the new generic treatments that are very affordable and just as effective as the originals, the cure is available to all.
Armed with this knowledge and powered by HepCured, Derek would like everyone to know that Hep C is just a word, not a sentence. He now shares his experiences and insights and communicate these findings to other Hepatitis C patients and the public in general.
“I had so much doubt getting into this because of the stigma. I didn’t really want to come out, I just wanted to keep quiet. But the mission came up when a friend I haven’t talked with in many years suddenly showed up and the first thing he told me was that he has Hep C and he didn’t know anything about it, he was not aware that there is a cure. Shortly after that incident, another friend got in touch with me, with the same story. That’s when I decided to speak up. It doesn’t matter what people will think of me, if my advocacy can save the lives of even a few, then it would have been worth it,” he explains.
To generate concern and action about Hepatitis C, Derek’s HepCured movement fires up the idea that the disease is something that happens to ordinary people. Common folk might have it and not even know it, as what happened to him. A person’s lifestyle 15 to 30 years ago could have damaged his or her liver without realizing it.
It is through constant updating and sharing of knowledge that the disease can be identified, battled, and defeated. He is doing this through the website and Facebook page of HepCured. Through HepCured, Hepatitis C patients can be part of a community of seekers for the cure, called The Cure Club. The Cure Club endeavors to search for treatments and remedies that are more accessibly priced and can be found in non-traditional sources.
For more information, please log in to www.hepcured.net or visit their Facebook page, @hepcured.