Guest post by Ellen Payne
I still remember every thrill of the day my son was born: hearing his first cry, counting his ten fingers and ten toes, watching him sleep in my arms. He slept so soundly, still unaware of the new world around him. I could hardly believe that this tiny person, whom I’d waited nine months to meet, was finally here for me to care for and protect. And when my son received his first shot of the hepatitis B vaccine, I was happy to be able to tell him: “It’s your first step toward a life without liver cancer, a life of happiness and health.” How fortunate I was to live in a time when all newborns can be protected by the hepatitis B vaccine. How fortunate I was to know that my son will never develop liver cancer due to hepatitis B infection.
It hasn’t always been this way. Newborns started getting the hepatitis B vaccine in the United States less than 20 years ago. I got the vaccine when I started college, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I was actually tested and knew for sure that I was protected and hadn’t been infected from my mother prior to my vaccination. My parents never got the vaccine, and even though they’re officially at high risk of hepatitis B because they’re Asian, they never knew whether they were infected or protected until I told them they should get tested. Sadly, they have friends who weren’t as fortunate as they are, and who found out firsthand about the damage that hepatitis B can do.
It’s different for my son: he’s been protected since day one. He completed his three shots and now he’s immune to hepatitis B. He’ll go through life with one less thing—one less life-threatening disease—to worry about.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective, whereas chronic (lifelong) hepatitis B infection has a one in four chance of causing death from liver cancer or liver failure. One in four? If my husband and I are blessed enough to have two kids someday, that’s the same chance of our having a boy and a girl. (Or two boys. I could live with that.) But I couldn’t live with taking that kind of risk with my son’s health. Instead, I chose to give him the peace of mind that comes with protection. I chose to stop hepatitis B on the day he was born—that amazing day that still feels like yesterday.
Will you, too, help stop hepatitis B? Tea Collection has teamed up with HepBMoms.org, a new nonprofit organization, to educate mothers about hepatitis B. This month, you can make a pledge to stop hepatitis B and win beautiful, comfortable Tea Collection clothing while you’re at it. Visit HepBMoms.org to learn more, and to join me and other moms in saying “Hep B stops with me!”