Greetings in the name of compassion, healing and hope!

When Hep C forced me to retire from my singing career in 1991 and although I was quite ill, I wanted to see something positive come from such a crisis. The word crisis in Chinese is made up of 2 characters: danger and opportunity. When I contacted the American Liver Foundation I was dismayed to learn they had only $200,000 in their bank account.

This news ultimately prompted me to start a research and education fund with $75,000 of my own money. Since then, I’ve been able to raise millions that has all been awarded to researchers. One $100,000 research grant alone was awarded to doctors in Colorado to study Pediatric Hepatitis C. I can’t bear the thought of kids suffering from this condition. (Of course I’ve never received a penny for my work with the American Liver Foundation.) Overall, the primary goal is to finance research to find a cure for this deadly, mysterious, and highly mutant virus.

I’m trying to pass along all the information I’m learning myself. Although I continue to talk about Hep C through public service announcements, magazine and newspaper interviews, TV, radio, lectures and public testimonies, most people still don’t know that Hep C is the "silent killer." It sneaks up on you. A victim may be without symptoms for years. You’ll be shocked that, in the next decade, four times more Americans are going to die from Hep C than from AIDs! I get quite frustrated that Hep C can’t get more attention in the media but hope that my continued effort to inform the public about the disease will help others to spread the word.

ABOUT HEP C
"Itis" on the end of a word means "inflammation of", and since the medical word for liver is hepatic, basically hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are many things that can cause your liver to be inflamed: mechanical, bacterial, or viral. All are a problem since the liver is so important to your overall health. This overworked and misunderstood organ is called "the factory" (like the heart is called the "pump"), because the liver is responsible for so many critical functions. It even detoxifies the blood of harmful wastes like alcohol, drugs, chemicals and stores sugars and vitamins.

HOW YOU CAN GET HEP C
The Hep C virus (HCV) is only transmitted if you are in contact with contaminated blood. So, think back to whether you’ve ever done IV drugs, had blood transfusions, organ transplants, prior to 1992, tattoos, body piercings, and possibly even had unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. All of these include the risk of contracting Hep C.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Hep C, learn what your alt/ast blood levels are.These levels indicate the amount of inflammation and will ultimately require a liver biopsy if very high. The biopsy is a needle stick into your right side and liver, which draws out a teeny amount of tissue for the doctor to inspect under a high powered microscope. (I’ve had several and was relieved that it’s not really painful because they give you a local anesthetic.) It’s much clearer than trying to guess what’s going on through blood tests. The doctor needs to know what stage of inflammation you’re in so he/she can start aggressive treatment. The key word here is "AGGRESSIVE." This virus rarely goes away on its own, instead it is busy replicating itself every minute even though you may not have symptoms.

IF YOU HAVE HEP C
Stay calm and choose to be positive and pro active! Realize you’re embarking on a journey and remember that you are not alone. One in every 50 Americans are also infected and over 170 million people are infected worldwide. Thousands of Americans still are walking around undiagnosed.

At first, the only drug available for treating Hep C was "Interferon" (so called because it "interferes" with the virus’ ability to multiply). But the good news update is that today there’s also a medication called "Ribavarin" that, given along with pegylated Interferon, is getting a 50%-60% sustained response rate! Hip Hip Hooray!!!

Besides taking the drug combination Interferon and Ribavarin, you should consider an anti -depressant as Hep C may also cause depression. Other steps include reevaluating your diet, cutting out all alcohol,reducing fat intake and watching your sleep patterns (ie allow your body to wake up on its own). Figure out how to simplify and slow down your lifestyle. I know full well that, the minute you get diagnosed, not only are you physically ill, but your mind is overwhelmed too. Because of how the disease process affects your thinking (adding new fears and uncertainty) plus the side effects from medication, most patients get depressed. I took an anti-depressant and urge you to ask for help too. You need to get your emotions balanced so you can deal with this new challenge. The goal is to help your liver while it is struggling to maintain its important functions while also taking care of your entire well-being.

Another huge step is to choose a doctor who realizes you’re a whole being, meaning you have emotional/spiritual components as well as physical complications. Find someone who answers all your questions (write down all your questions as information is your most valuable tool in dealing with any reality in life).

COPING
Hope helps you cope. I could go on and on about how critical a positive outlook is! After studying all the ways one can heal myself, I’ve discovered eye- opening research. Patients who are most likely to survive a life-threatening illness or other major life crisis are found to have these 8 characteristics in common, and I encourage you to incorporate them into your daily activities:

  1. Faith (you are a spiritual being having a human experience.)
  2. Humor
  3. Support systems
  4. Spending time in nature
  5. Managing stress
  6. Eating healthy, taking vitamins/supplements, and exercising regularly
  7. Having goals and a purpose
  8. Keeping an open belief system

CONCEPTS
I’ve learned from experts, friends, and folks like you that nothing will change until you change the way you are thinking. You change everything for the better when you decide to change your mind. When you can’t change the way things are going, you still get to choose your reactions. Here are a few additional concepts to consider:

  • Change the world by changing our own consciousness. When you bring conscious awareness into your everyday life, you begin to heal yourself. As you expand and heal on a personal level, the positive changes will be reflected onto those around you. Like the ripple effect when a pebble is dropped in a still pond, as you grow in consciousness the mass consciousness shifts accordingly.
  • Live in the present and in the presence of God. Focus all your attention on the present moment. Enjoy your senses.
  • You are first and foremost a spiritual being in a physical body. Your purpose is to grow in love and wisdom, and to reach out to others.
  • Religion is just a bridge to help get us to our true spirituality. There are many paths, but only one journey to find God!
  • Illness is often a message that something is out of balance in our lives. Symptoms are symbols. If you don’t acknowledge mentally what is going on in your life, your body embodies and then reflects the problem. Emotions are stored in the body.
  • Your feelings become chemicals that can help or hurt you. Neuropepetides are chemical messengers released by the brain and received by receptor sites located throughout the body. Your body constantly registers what you believe and say. Say good thoughts.
  • A prognosis is just an opinion, not a prediction. A bad prognosis is as bad as a medical curse or hex because your body acts out your expectations.
  • Choose a doctor who gives you hope.
  • The deepest source of your identity is God, a supernatural being with super natural powers.
  • Healing begins in your mind. You should never ignore the role emotion plays in your well-being.
  • Psychologists say Americans are the most unhappy they have ever been. It is because we do not know who we are. Hep C caused me to slow down and simplify.
  • You are a human being, not a human doing. Tension is how you think you should be; relaxation is who you really are.
  • Change is the true nature of our world. Your only security comes from within. The only control you have is over your choices and reactions.
  • Become a detective in your life; question everything from within. Observation is the 1st step to having a transformation.
  • You’re attracting what you feel worthy of right now in all parts of your life. You will never allow yourself to have more than you feel you deserve. Nobody does it to you – you’re doing it to yourself through others. Do not be defined by your past. You are so much more!
  • The #1 indicator for how healthy you’ll be and how long you will live is your level of self-worth.
  • Peace of mind is the ultimate goal. Peace isn’t the absence of a problem; it’s the ability to deal with it.

HOW TO HELP OR GET HELP
If you or someone you know has been affected by liver disease, sending donations for special occasions is a wonderful tribute and the most worthwhile gift. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving! Maybe you’d consider leaving something in your will, as your legacy. Donations go not only towards research to find a cure and vaccine, but also for clinical trials, to promote education, and even organ donation (everyday 8-10 people die waiting for organs). All are important human needs. I suggest going to Friends of St. Louis University. (314) 576-3078 www.friendsoftheslulc.org

Meanwhile, see my reading list for excellent guides to comfort and inform. I’ve been completely free from the Hep C virus since 1995, and my prayer is for you to join me! The best way to predict your future is to be part of creating it. Be informed, act aggressively, and stay positive. Pray your answer, not your problem!

I wrote Naomi’s Breakthough Guide, How to Have a Breakthrough, Not a Breakdown with you in mind. You can order it through the links on my website or on Amazon.com.

Still in one peace,
Naomi Judd


NAOMI’S PREFERED READING MATERIALS

Hep C

  1. Living With Hepatitis C: A Survivor’s guide, by Gregory Everson, MD & Hedy Weinberg, Hatherleigh Press, 1997.
  2. The Hepatitis C Handbook, by Matthew Dolan. Published by Catalyst Press United Kingdom
Anxiety
  1. Triumph Over Fear: A Book Of Help and Hope For People With Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Phobias, by Jerilyn Ross and Rosalynn Carter. To order call 800/545-7367.
  2. Overcoming Panic Anxiety & Phobia: New Strategies to Free Yourself From Worry and Fear by Shirley Babior & Carol Goldman. Whole Person Associates, 1996; to order call 800-247-6789.
  3. The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hahn (Beacon Press, 1996)
  4. Touching Peace: Practicing the Art Of Mindful Living, by Thich Nhat Hahn (Parallax Press, 1992)

Integrative Medicine

I prefer the terms "integrative" or holistic or spirit, mind, body instead of "alternative" because these techniques can and should be used along with (rather than instead of) traditional medical practices. They allow you to feel more in control and lower stress.

  1. Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods and Thoughts Affect Your Health, by Blair and Rita Justice (J.P. Tarcher, 1989, out of print)
  2. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, by Caroline Myss (Random House, 1997)
  3. Spontaneous Healing: How To Discover and Enhance Your Body’s Natural Ability To Heal Itself, by Andrew Weil, M.D. (Knopf, 1995)
  4. Mind Body Medicine: How To Use Your Mind For Better Health, by Daniel Goleman and Joel Gurin (Consumer Reports Books, 1995)
  5. Eight Weeks to Optimal Health: A Proven Program For Taking Full Advantage of Your Body’s Healing Power, by Dr. Andrew Weil (Knopf, 1997)
  6. Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes For Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them, by Louise Hay (Hay House, 1994)
  7. Beyond Illness: Discovering the Experience of Health, by Dr. Larry Dossey (Random House, 1985)
  8. Getting Well Again, by Dr. Carl Simonton (Bantam, 1992)
  9. Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and The Practice Of Medicine, by Larry Dossey, M.D. (Harper, 1995)
  10. How To Live Between Office Visits: A Guide to Life, Love and Health, by Bernie Siegel, M.D. (Harper Perennial, 1997)
  11. Living Beyond Limits, by David Spiegel, M.D. (Fawcett Books, 1994)
  12. Love Medicine & Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing From A Surgeon’s Experience With Exceptional Patients,by Bernie Siegel, M.D. (HarperCollins, 1990)
  13. Super Immunity: Master Your Emotions and Improve Your Personal Health, by Paul Pearsall (Fawcett Books, 1993)
  14. Timeless Healing: The Power of Biology and Belief, by Herbert Benson and Marg Stark (Scribner, 1996)
  15. Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, by Caroline Myss (Harmony Books, 1994)
  16. Healing and the Mind book and video PBS tape by Bill Moyers (Doubleday, 1993)
  17. The Healing Brain: Breakthrough Discoveries About How The Brain Keeps Us Healthy, by Robert Ornstein and David Sobel (Simon and Schuster, 1987)
Grief
  1. Healing into Life and Death, by Stephen Levine (Anchor, 1989)
  2. A Year to Live, by Stephen Levine (Three Rivers Press, 1997)
  3. The Grace in Dying, by Kathleen Dowling Singh (Harper San Francisco, 1998)
  4. Mourning Sickness, by Keith Smith
Family Issues/Sibling Placement/Relationships
  1. Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy, by Dr. Dean Ornish (HarperCollins, 1998)
  2. The Mother Daughter Dance, by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
  3. Adult Sibling Rivalry: Understanding the Legacy of Childhood, by Jane Greer and Edward Myers (Crown Publishing, 1992)
  4. Choicemaking, by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse (Health Communications, 1985)
  5. Family Treatment: The Sibling Bond and Other Relationship Issues, by Edith M. Freeman (Charles C. Thomas Publishing, 1993)
  6. Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of A Painful Childhood, by Wayne Mueller (Fireside, 1993)
  7. Mom Loved You Best: Understanding the Roots of Rivalry and Enriching Your Sibling Relationships, by William E. and Mada Hapworth (Penguin USA, 1994)
  8. Truce: Ending The Sibling War, by Janet Bode (Franklin Watts, 1991)
  9. Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher Ph.D.
  10. The Shelter of Each Other by Mary Pipher Ph.D.
  11. Another Country by Mary Pipher Ph.D.
  12. Love Can Build A Bridge (children’s’ book) by Naomi Judd (HarperCollins Publishers)
Spiritual/Religious
  1. The Bible
  2. Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis (Simon & Shuster, 1980)
  3. Iluminata A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
  4. Care of the Soul: Cultivating Depth and Sacredness In Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore (Harper Perennial, 1994)
  5. Fire in the Soul: A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism, by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. (Warner Books, 1994)
  6. Healing into Life and Death, by Stephen Levine (Anchor Books, 1989)
  7. The Laws of Spirit: Simple, Powerful Truths For Making Life Work, by Dan Millman(HJ Kramer, 1995)
  8. Who Needs God?, by Rabbi Harold Kushner
  9. Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Approach, by Larry Dossey, M.D. (Bantam Doubleday, 1989)
  10. The Road Less Traveled, by Dr. M. Scott Peck (Touchstone Books, 1988)
  11. The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zucav Simon & Schuster (Fireside, 1990)
Lifestyle
  1. Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating, by Geneen Roth (Plume, 1993)
  2. Eat More, Weigh Less: Dr. Dean Ornish’s Life Choice Program For Losing Weight Safely, by Dean Ornish, M.D. (Harper Collins Publishers, 1997
  3. Feeding The Hungry Heart: The Experience of Compulsive Eating, by Geneen Roth (Plume, 1993)
  4. Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson, by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. (Warner Books, 1991)
  5. The Healing Foods Cookbook: 400 Delicious Recipes With Curative Power, by the Prevention Magazine editors (GK Hall & Co, 1991)
  6. Healthy Pleasures, by Robert Ornstein (Addison Wesley, 1990)
  7. Naomi’s Home Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Recipes, Food For Thought and Country Wit and Wisdom, by Naomi Judd (GoodTimes Publishing, 1997)
  8. Program for Reversing Heart Disease, by Dean Ornish, M.D. (Random House, 1990)
  9. When Food Is Love: Exploring The Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy, by Geneen Roth (Plume, 1993)
  10. Yoga by Silva, Mira & Shyam Mehta
Motivational
  1. Love Can Build A Bridge (autobiography), by Naomi Judd (Fawcett Books, 1994)
  2. Awakening Intuition, by Mona Lisa Schulz M.D and Ph.D.
  3. The Be-Happy Attitudes: Eight Positive Attitudes That Can Transform Your Life, by Dr. Robert Schuller (Word Books, 1997)
  4. Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Victor Canfield and Jack Hansen Health Communications, 1993
  5. The Healing Heart, by Dr. Mehmet OZ
  6. Teach Only Love, by Gerald Jampolsky, M.D.
Relaxation
  1. Managing Stress, by Brian Luke Seaword, Ph.D.
  2. Creative Visualization, by Shakti Gawain (Bantam Books, 1983)
  3. How To Meditate (book & tapes), by Lawrence LeShan (book published by Bantam Books, 1984; tapes published by Audio Renaissance, 1987)
  4. Inner Simplicity: 100 Ways To Regain Peace and Nourish Your Soul, by Elaine St. James (Bantam Doubleday, 1995)
  5. Mindfulness Meditation: Cultivating the Wisdom Of Your Body and Mind, by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Simon and Schuster, 1995)
  6. The Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson (Avon, 1990)
  7. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Warner Books, 1995)
  8. Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways To Slow Down and Enjoy The Things That Really Matter, by Elaine St. James (Hyperion, 1994)
  9. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindful Meditation in Everyday Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Hyperion, 1995)
  10. The Art of Happiness, by The Dali Lama
  11. Kicking Your Stress Habits: A Do-It-Yourself Guide For Coping With Stress, by Donald A. Tubesing (New American Library, 1989)
Women’s Health
  1. The New Feminine Brain, by Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz, PhD
  2. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, by Dr. Christiane Northrup (Bantam, 1995)
  3. A Woman’s Worth, by Marianne Williamson (Ballantine Books, 1994)
  4. A Woman’s Book of Life, Joan Borypenko, Ph.D.
  5. I’m Too Young To Get Old, by Judith Reichman, M.D.
  6. The Wisdom of Menopause, by Dr. Christiane Northrup.
NAOMI’S TAPE SUGGESTIONS FOR PEACEFUL AND INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
  1. To order a catalog, contact Soundings of the Planet at 800-93-PEACE or visit the Sounding of the Planet website at www.PeaceThroughMusic.com Tropic of Paradise, Forest Rain, Life Streams, Ocean Dreams, Peaceful Pond, Dreamstreams, Desert Dawn Song.
  2. Inspirational CDs by Don Potter. You can order his music through his website: http://www.donpottermusic.com
  3. Spiritual Journeys: Meditations – Woodland Streams, Sea Shore, Desert Rain, and Night Watch. Purchase through Master/Media (817-498-8909)
  4. Gregorian Chants, Ave Maria - Benedictine Nuns of St. Cecilia’s Abbey Sounds
  5. Tibetan Bells, Vol. III: Empty Mirror - Henry Wolff & Nancy Hennings
  6. NAWANG, Sounds of Peace
  7. Environments: Music of the Future, I-IV Ocean Sounds, Thunderstorms, English Meadow, etc.
  8. Guided Meditation
  9. Morning and Evening Meditations and Prayers - Joan Borysenko Ph.D.
  10. Angelic Meditation - Audio Alternatives (914-238-5943)
  11. Relaxation/Imagery Skills/Stress Management tapes
  12. Meditations for Overcoming Depression - Joan Borysenko Ph.D.
  13. Moderately Upbeat Music

GENERAL RESOURCE INFORMATION

American Liver Foundation - www.liverfoundation.org
Dr. Bruce Bacon, St. Louis Univ. (314) 577-8764 or livercenter.slu.edu
Friends of St. Louis University, (314) 576-3078 or www.friendsoftheslulc.org
Alcoholics Anonymous (212) 870-3400
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) - www.DBSAlliance.org
Grief Recovery Institute: (800) 445-4808
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (800) 950-6264 or www.nami.org
National Mental Health Association: (800) 969-6642 or www.nmha.org
Focus On Hepatitis C - www.hepcfocus.com
Hepatitis C Home Kit "Home Access Health’s Hepatitis C Check" -www.homeaccess.com/Hepatitis_C_Test.asp