Laura’s Story: Fatty Liver Disease Steatohepatitis

In 2009 I went to the doctor’s office for a routine physical exam. As part of the physical, my doctor ordered labs. I went through the normal physical exam routine and scheduled my follow-up visit for my results. While waiting for my follow-up visit, I received a call from my doctor that my lab work had shown that one of my labs show abnormal results related to my liver function and scheduled me for an ultrasound and more tests. After all the results were in, I went to see my doctor, and during the visit, he explained to me that my ultrasound showed spots in my liver. That is when I received the diagnosis of a fatty liver disease medically known as Steatohepatitis. My provider explained to me that the spots were a result of my obesity. He also explained the different possible outcomes if I didn’t change to a healthier lifestyle. I think the biggest impact was when I heard that it could lead to liver cancer.

After my diagnose, I did what the rest of the world would do. I googled it. That’s when I realized that I did not know much about the liver and its importance. Nor did I know how it contributes to my well-being. I also realized that the resources are limited, including available treatments for my diagnosis. The one common denominator mentioned on the web to prevent more damage was incorporating a healthier lifestyle and weight loss.

Learning this was a turning point in my life; I made a commitment to myself and my family to eat healthier, exercise, lose weight, and practice more self-care. Within a month, I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and went to nutrition classes offered by my healthcare provider. I am happy to share with you that at my 6-month follow-up visit to the doctor, I had lost about 40 pounds. Since then, I have lost a total of 65 pounds, and most importantly, my health has improved in every area. The awareness that came through my experience led me to participate in research studies to ensure that Latinos are represented specially because I know that our culture has a very intimate relationship with food. Our families revolve around food and use food as an expression of love, joy, and kindness. I know how hard it is to break that food habit, but I also know how much we lack knowledge in this area and how it directly affects our community.

My experience and the knowledge that I gained from my liver disease make being an Ambassador on the Board of Directors of the Liver Coalition of San Diego a great honor.