The silent disease; man survives liver disease

Author: Marsha Lewis, Matt Goldschmidt, Roque Correa
Published: Updated:

More than a hundred million people in the U.S. are living with some form of liver disease, and some stats say that almost 80 million of them don’t even know they have it. If left untreated, liver disease can lead to liver failure or liver cancer.

There are many causes – genetics, diet, alcohol. Even people who have never drank can get liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens when you have too many fat deposits in your liver.

For one man, finding out he had it started a journey that ended up saving his life.

Brad Myers’ passion is taking a piece of wood and creating art, but Brad’s post-retirement plan to turn his hobby into a business got cut short when doctors told him he had end-stage liver disease.

“And I said, ‘I have what?!’” Brad recalls.

There are two types of fatty liver disease. NAFLD, now called SLD, shows signs of fat in the liver, but if you also have inflammation and liver cell damage, that is now referred to as MASLD (previously called NASH). Brad was enrolled in a clinical trial at the University of Cincinnati for a new drug to treat NASH.

Brad explains, “While I was finished with the trial, I had my last liver biopsy.“

That’s when doctors discovered a malignant tumor, which was treated by proton radiation therapy.

But then, another tumor popped up.

Hematologist Oncologist at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, Adam Rojan, MD, explains, “We gave him two intravenous medications. One is a targeted drug that– how it works is by disrupting the blood supply to the cancer. The other is a form of immunotherapy where we try to stimulate his immune system to fight his cancer.”

Neither worked. A transplant was his last resort. With just weeks to live, a deceased donor liver was found.

Now, two years and three clinical trials later, Brad has a new liver, is completely cancer-free and is back in business.

“I love it, yeah. It’s total peace for me,” Brad said with relief.

Liver disease is often called the silent disease – people can live for years without symptoms. By the time they do start to feel signs such as fatigue, weight loss, jaundice, itching and pain in the upper belly, the liver disease can be quite progressed.

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