Tuberculosis :: Statement from TB patient Andrew Speaker

Andrew Speaker writes, I am incredibly relieved that the multiple test results made public show that I don’t have extensively drug resistant tuberculosis.

The truth is that my condition is just the same as it was back in early May, long before there was a huge health scare, and back when I was allowed to carry on with my daily life and was told I was not a threat to anyone.

My understanding is that the doctors here have tested my samples taken from Atlanta, New York and here at National Jewish going all the way back to April. They all have come up exactly the same. They all show that I do not have, nor have I ever had, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. It has been an incredibly long and difficult month, but today is a day of relief for both myself and my family. The international panic that was created – excuse me – let me start again.

For the international panic that was created after my misdiagnosis and the way my case was handled, I can only hope that this news helps calm the fears of those people that were on the flights with me. However, it doesn’t change the fact that one-third of the world has TB and it accounts for one-quarter of the world’s preventable death. I hope that the attention TB has gotten lately results in more being done to help eradicate one of the world’s deadliest killers. This is not a disease that is bound by socioeconomic status or geographic location and it must be addressed accordingly.

It is true that, at times, the government must act to protect the public’s welfare and balance personal liberties with public safety. But a popular quote says it well that quote, With great power comes great responsibility, unquote.

In the future, I hope they realized the terribly chilling effect they can have when they come after someone and their family on a personal level. They can, in a few days, destroy an entire family’s reputation, ability to make a living and good name.

On a personal note, thankfully my treatment will now be based on less toxic drugs than my earlier misdiagnosis dictated. While my road to treatment has gotten easier, I hope that this news doesn’t quiet the serious attention that I have come to discover this disease deserves. I truly appreciate all of the kind thoughts and prayers that have been expressed. By being transferred to National Jewish, I was given something that every American should be entitled to, the best possible chance for treatment and recovery.

The fact is that we can now act to combat and treat this global killer, or be forced to react later. I believe that God has a purpose in everything, and I pray that out of this will come greater awareness and action now, when making a difference is still a choice and not a threat to our way of life. I will have more to say later, but for now I am just grateful to be at National Jewish and thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.

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