Caissie recently celebrated an important health milestone and a pilgrimage to the heartland of country music is his reward for sticking to his treatments.
After living with hepatitis C for most of his life, Caissie is now completely free of the communicable, liver-attacking, virus.
“My blood is all clear. I’m happy, yeah,” said Caissie.
For the past several years Caissie has split his time between Community Connections in Summerside and the Miscouche home of his brother and sister-in-law, Sonny and Linda Gallant, who are also his legal guardians. Caissie has a number of health problems that require he have a caretaker.
Before coming to P.E.I., Caissie lived most of his life in British Columbia. It was in that province in the 1980s that he contracted hepatitis C from a tainted blood transfusion during a spinal surgery.
There was little in the way of treatment options available at that time, and with his other health problems, his doctors advised against trying what options were available. So he lived with the virus.
Hepatitis C can be communicable through contact with infected blood. It can cause a variety of ailments, and more seriously, liver cancer.
It wasn’t until 2016 that the Gallants found out there was a cure for the type of virus Caissie had and that the province would pay for it. P.E.I. added the drugs to its formulary in 2015.
The treatment can cost between $40,000 and $100,000 per patient, depending on their condition.
Linda said she can hardly believe Caissie is cured.
“He’s 100 per cent clear of it,” she said.
“It’s not something that comes back – it’s just gone. I’m still amazed with it; that he went from the potential of being sick as he got older, to it’s gone.”
Linda said she wanted to share Caissie’s story to help spread the word that this treatment is out there.
According to Health P.E.I., there are about 550 Islanders living with hepatitis C infections.
Health P.E.I. expects to effectively eliminate the virus here by 2025.
Anyone who wants more information about the hepetitus treatment program can contact Health P.E.I. at (902) 368-4947, or go online at www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/health-pei/hepatitis-drug-program.
As for Caissie, he’s aware that his blood is healthier now – but he’s mostly just really excited to head for Nashville.
Hopefully, said Linda, he’ll now have many more years of listening to his country music heroes.