He was a good friend and we spoke nearly daily. I also had planned to visit him but had to have surgery. He was most helpful to me and others. A great loss to me as we paralleled in our situation. His transplant was a year before mine. I had absolutely no problem, while he had many. It's unfair I escaped the torment he had, but in my heart, he was a hero to all of us. May he rest in piece. If there's anything positive about this, it's that he is no longer suffering...
It was so wonderful to see our friends from MedHelp at Howie's memorial
Thank you for coming and for caring about us
Today is Howie's memorial. Although I wasn't able to attend I did send my thoughts to hepcandme to share.
Here is what I wrote:
The way I came to know and admire Howie was like many others, by frequenting the online hep C forum on medhelp.
Having lived in S.F myself, and spending my adult life in Northern Californian, his user name grabbed my eye when he first showed up on medhelp.
It was a bit over 2 years after my own liver transplant while living in Oakland, that Howie and I began communicating.
Although his online writing, was always informative and non-judgemental, it wasn't until we began sharing private messages, that I discovered we shared a similar sense of humor and sarcasm.
Having both spent our childhoods on the East Coast, we reminisced about the hippie era, laughing over listening to Cousin Brucie on our transistor radios, or how it felt during the summer of Woodstock.
Shortly after beginning my post-transplant treatment of interferon,( my second round taking this toxic medicine ) Howie said he wanted to meet me.
I was hesitant being selfishly reluctant to meet someone who sounded so sick, not sure if I could cope emotionally with his illness, while experiencing the depressing craziness of interferon treatment.
Then he called me his hero. His hero? I never thought of myself as a hero. All I did was place one foot in front of the other, which lead me to where I was, and where I am.
My story included being the first Westerner to have a live liver transplant in Taiwan~ a story know to Howie. It wasn't heroism that lead me to Taiwan, it was not having health insurance and having spent years meandering around Asia.
Although I didn't think of myself as a hero, I understood that my story inspired Howie. Thus I agreed to meet with him.
So, on a Fall day, after my doctor's appointment in S.F., I met Howie at the Ferry Building. He carried a version of Dante's inferno, under his arm.
We walked and talked, stopping for lunch, as if we were old friends. This was the first of our meetings in that lovely city by the bay.
When Howie finally got his transplant, we felt close enough that I could teasingly tell him how happily surprised I was~how I had been sure he was a goner.
He agreed sounding both stunned and relieved that his long awaited transplant had finally taken place.
It was his quirky humor, his honesty, how comfortable and easy it was to feel close to a man who really, I only met but a few times, that endeared him to me. His ability to research,to answer and help so many, even while he himself was ailing, was truly impressive.
Learning of his death shocked and saddened me. His perseverance in the face of such poor odds, his advocacy for others tackling liver disease, and his braveness in facing one malady after another, made Howie truly a hero.
His obit notice in last Sundays S.F. Chronicle:
I'm very sad to learn this news. My prayers to Howie's sister, his friends, and all who knew him.
I am shocked and dismayed. HectorSF was the best! The Medhelp hep-c forum wouldn't have been the same without him. He helped me and many, many others. God bless him and may he rest in peace.
Dear Hawk, thank you so much! I was coming here to make sure everyone knew. I found out early yesterday morning and am crushed. Bless you! Dee
It was a privilege to attend Hector's memorial yesterday, meet his sister, and some MedHelp members as well. I'm attaching links here to a tribute to him that went out to all the Community Leaders earlier this month, as some members were interested.
That is so sad. He was so smart and gave so much to the cure for Hepatitis C. I can't think of a single person who tirelessly offered help and understanding in this forum and to the world. He will be missed.
Rest in peace Howie. Your life on this earth was way to short. You gave so much.
I haven't been here for some time, but every time I do look at the forum, I search for Hector. I am so sad to hear the news.
Andiamo1! So happy to see you! How are you?
Yes, losing Howie was awful.
Magnum, thank you for sharing what his sister said.
It was such a shock when Can-do told me had died. I didn't want it to be true, he was my hero as well. He helped me understand that once the HCV was gone I still had cirrhosis, still had to be careful, go to the liver doctor twice a year for blood work and sonogram
Merry Christmas everyone!
Hawk, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to so many.
I have always put you "up there" with Howie.
You are my hero