Derek Dee started out as a photographer before he ventured into acting and movie production. His name is attached to titles such as Inay (1993), Sa Bingit ng Kamatayan (1996), and Rumble Boy (2007). But a lot of people associate him with ex-wife Melanie Marquez. Their short marriage was blessed with two daughters – Maxine (22) who is a teacher based in Utah and Michelle (21) who recently began her modeling career for Bench and is steadily gaining ground in the industry.
These days, Derek busies himself with business and a new-found advocacy, which is the fight against Hepatitis C.
“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 but there is not much information about it available. 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,” he reveals.
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 brought him many heartaches and disappointments. The only option he found were drugs which had deadly side effects and low cure rates. 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 a journey looking for generic medicines from India which cost so much ess (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 Derek would like everyone to know that Hepatitis 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 through his Facebook page, @hepcured and his website, hepcured.net.
It is through constant updating and sharing of knowledge that the disease can be identified, battled, and defeated. 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.
“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.
For more information, please log in to www.hepcured.net or visit their Facebook page, @hepcured.