Source: Tamba Press
In her twenties, Cole was addicted to heroin. Then she got clean and sober. Twenty-five years later, in early 2008, she discovered she had hepatitis C.
“Hep C” is a life-threatening liver disease that’s spread through contact with infected blood during sex, through sharing needles, and from mother to baby during childbirth. There is no vaccine.
Cole’s doctor suggested that she may have caught the virus when she was sharing needles during her wild days in New York, and that it had remained dormant in her body for over two decades.
In an excerpt from her memoir, as reported by MSNBC, “Love Brought Me Back,” the 60-year-old singer recounts those wild days when she was the talented but deeply troubled daughter of renowned singer Nat King Cole -striding through the streets of Harlem, dressed to the nines, looking to score.
She writes: “I wanted one thing and one thing only – the feeling I got when the sh– shot through my veins. I was going to get it, no matter what.”
Most people infected with hep C don’t have any symptoms for years. The infection can last a lifetime, and may lead to liver scarring or cancer. In serious cases, including Natalie Cole’s, a liver transplant may be in order.
Cole started chemotherapy two years ago, but suffered kidney and liver failure, and had to go on dialysis three times a week before a donor was found.
Cole said “survivor’s guilt” nearly led her to refuse the donor liver and kidney according to the Daily Mail.
Cole was sitting by the bedside of her dying sister when the call came. She ignored it at first, but eventually went to the hospital to receive the double transplant.