How Derek Dee beat Hepa C

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – From action star to man of action.

That’s the best way to describe Derek Dee as he embarks on his newfound calling as a staunch crusader in his fight against Hepatitis C.

Although the name may not ring a bell among today’s millennials, Derek was a prolific action star, photographer and movie producer during the ’80s. He was also married to former beauty queen/actress Melanie Marquez, with whom he has two daughters, Michelle and Maxine.

Having shunned the showbiz limelight for some years now, Derek leads a pretty quiet life as a businessman, but has been more outspoken lately with his personal advocacy for HepCured, a digital movement that promotes awareness and treatment for Hepatitis C.

Derek stumbled upon his noble cause by accident.

A routine blood test four years ago revealed that he had contracted the dreaded disease. Though at first unsure of its origin, his own research led him to conclude that he may have imbibed the deadly virus through the use of contaminated needles during his younger days.

Faced with such a grim prognosis, Derek took it upon himself to search for viable treatments.

He recalls, “Four years ago, having Hepatitis C was a death sentence because there was no cure yet. The main reason people die from Hepatitis C is because symptoms don’t show up until it’s too late, so you don’t really know that you’re sick.”

Derek Dee with daughter Michelle

At first, he decided not to seek treatment, because the only options at the time were drugs that had deadly side effects and dismal efficacy. It was only two years ago when a more effective cure rate of 94 to 97 percent was discovered, but was too expensive.

Extensive online research eventually led him to the Singapore General Hospital Pharmacy, which offered to order the miracle drug for him at a lower cost.

After getting the treatment, Derek has successfully purged the virus and is officially cured.

But despite his well-fought victory, the former actor felt compelled to do something about the massive wealth of information that he had accumulated all throughout his struggling times.

Realizing the plight of Hepatitis C victims in the country, Derek knew that the “wonder drugs” were still beyond the reach of the masses. Fueled by his desire to help others, he embarked on another journey that led him to cheaper generic medicines from India costing $1,000, compared to the original branded price of $90,000.

With the cure now available to all, Derek feels that all his efforts have borne fruit.

“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 Hepa 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.

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 details, log on to www.hepcured.net or visit its Facebook page, @hepcured.

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