Those of us who live with the effects of hepatitis C virus — often shortened to HCV or hep C — understand the many feelings that often go hand-in-hand with the diagnosis. When I finally began to accept my own physical symptoms, and to understand the stigma that surrounds hep C, I realized that I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I did.

I’ve discovered that making a difference in the hep C community is one way I can find healing, fulfillment, and help others, too. I think this is something that many of us living with hep C experience. As we gain insight into our health journey, we begin to look for meaning and purpose in our lives.

Everyone can make a difference. It’s simply a matter of using your unique talents and gifts. When you are intentional about reaching out, opportunities begin to appear everywhere. It’s easy to start right where you are.

Getting started

Begin by learning more at educational websites like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The HCV Advocate, or the American Liver Foundation (ALF). They provide helpful information about Hepatitis C. As you gain valuable knowledge to heal yourself, you can share what you’ve learned so that others benefit from your wisdom.

Once you have an understanding of the condition, and you’re ready to take action, start thinking about how you personally can make a difference in the hep C community. There are many ideas, possibilities, and different paths to getting started:

1. Tell someone your story

With technology, you have a connection to people all over the world who are searching for support and encouragement. Your story may help lift others up at their darkest hour. When they see how you learned to solve a hep C problem, they may be inspired to talk to their doctor about it. Your personal experience is valuable.

2. Become a motivation for others

A solution that worked for you may be just the influence that stirs someone to seek help. Look for online sites such as Inspire, where you can log in 24/7 to find hope for yourself, and also help to brighten someone’s day.

3. Get involved in your community

If a group or club meets regularly, offer to share your experience with hep C. Volunteer to talk to a class about living with a liver condition, how hep C is transmitted, or how you’re overcoming the symptoms, stigma, and medical concerns. Talk to your community and spiritual leaders about helping promote awareness for testing and treatment.

4. Use your social skills

Do you enjoy social media sharing? Begin to follow and “friend” important hepatitis and liver groups like ALF, CDC, myself, and others. Now, be ready to share the latest chats, tweets, Instagram, and Facebook posts on your timeline. You can even use social media to ask for donations for liver disease research and treatment on your birthday.

5. Express yourself with words

You may enjoy giving your opinion to people who make important decisions. Instead of holding those words in, write them out and send them in an email or letter. Follow up and make sure that your voice is heard.

6. Honor someone special to you

It’s as simple as donating to a liver disease organization. Your gift can leave a lasting legacy for a loved one who has been impacted by hepatitis.

7. Create your own fundraising campaign

You can start with organizing a garage sale or bake sale, or creating your own fundraiser. Every little bit helps!

8. Participate in a local Liver Walk

Join together with a team of family, friends, or other hep C supporters to find a local Liver Walk. You can raise awareness and fundraise by walking or running in the local event of your choice.

9. Contact the ALF

When you’re ready and interested in taking action to spread awareness about hep C, the ALF is a good organization to contact. They even offer training and support materials for beginner advocates.

Liver Life Walk 2018: Event Recap

The takeaway

Whatever you’re experiencing with hep C, there are others going through the same thing. Help them today by reaching out and making a difference. Your time, talents, and money can provide the hope that someone needs to keep going.

Even though I am cured of the virus, I continue to encourage others to get tested, treated, and cured. Together, we can make a difference for the hep C community.

Karen Hoyt is a yoga teaching, shake making, boat floating, fast walker who resides in the woods of Oklahoma. She is the author of The Liver Loving Diet and is your best friend with liver disease at Follow her on Facebook @ihelpc.karen, Twitter @hepatitisihelpc, and Instagram @karenhoyt1.