I lost my father to Hep B related liver cancer when he was only 55 years old. My dad always prided himself on his good health- he rarely smoked or drank and almost never had to see a doctor except for his annual checkups- when he was always presented with a clean bill of health. Only problem was that he was born in Shanghai. He grew up in China until his mid-twenties when he came to the US for graduate school. No one in China or the US thought to ever check his Hepatitis B status even though it is prevalent among Asians.
One day my dad went to see his family doctor for a routine check up. This was in 1994. He had been having some unexplained low grade fevers that he couldn’t figure out. The recommendations were just coming out to start checking Asian Americans for their Hepatitis B status so his doctor decided to check him. My dad was indeed positive as a chronic carrier. As a precaution, the doctor ordered an ultrasound of his liver. To our family’s absolute shock, they found a baseball sized tumor in the middle of his liver. We were stunned and devastated to learn that this tumor had been growing for years and as a result of his longstanding chronic Hepatitis B status that we never knew about. My dad went on to bravely undergo a liver resection and intensive chemotherapy over the next year but ultimately succumbed to the cancer exactly one year after the initial diagnosis.
It is still devastating for my sister and I to know that we lost our father in the prime of his life to a potentially preventable cancer. Had we known about his Hepatitis B status and had his liver monitored closely every six months, my father may have had a fighting chance. We are starting to find peace but hope that no one ever has to go through the process of losing a loved one to liver cancer from Hepatitis B.