This weekend I’m attending HealtheVoices 2016, a healthcare advocates blogging conference in Chicago, Illinois. I’m kind of excited, kind of nervous, as I always get when I’ll be in large crowds of people I don’t know (yet). It’s really well organized and they’ve already sent out a list of the 100 or so attendees with their respective social media contact info and I’ve been furiously visiting all of their blogs to get a sense of who’s going to be there and what their particular advocacy focus is.
I heard about the conference from a twitter post by Ann Silberman, whose blog But Doctor, I Hate Pink I follow. Ann is one of the breast cancer bloggers I follow online and never actually met, but feel a connection to by following her blog and Facebook page. Since I respect her opinion, I checked it out and was impressed by the quality of the attendees and content from the 2015 conference, and decided to apply. I was honored (and surprised) to be accepted.
Later I learned that Ann Marie Otis, another breast cancer blogger I follow on her blog Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer is going and now I’m really excited about the conference because I’ll get to meet her in person, and she’s amazing! Just as you’d expect from the name of her blog, Ann Marie is ferocious, funny and compassionate all rolled into one voice.
Below is a description taken directly from the HealtheVoices site, which provides an overview of the conference:
“Social media is shaping the way patients and caregivers make decisions about their healthcare, and online health advocates and bloggers are at the forefront of this movement. In an effort to support online health advocates who offer such important support to others facing medical challenges, Janssen has created HealtheVoices™ – a groundbreaking empowerment and leadership conference created for online health advocates and bloggers.
In its second year, HealtheVoices™ is the only conference created exclusively for online health advocates across a broad spectrum of health conditions. Our mission is to provide the tools, resources and inspiration to improve online patient and caregiver communities and expand their reach. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with other health activists and learn from experts in health, social media and advocacy.”
When I was accepted, it was one of the first times I actually embraced the notion that I’m a breast cancer advocate. Because I work full time I look at my blog as my side passion project but have never really owned the fact that I put in a tremendous amount of thought, time and even money to keep the blog active and that my primary motivation (other than that I love that people actually read what I write) is to share what I learned with other women who will be faced with breast cancer. Being asked to join a group of healthcare advocates is an honor and I’m excited to meet the other attendees.
One of my primary challenges as a breast cancer advocate is how to juggle my full time consulting work with the marketing of my blog throughout social media sites and platforms in order to reach as many women with breast cancer as possible. I’m hoping I’ll learn tips on how to maximize my impact with the limited time I can find to devote to it each week.
And….who doesn’t like Chicago? It’s a great city, I’m looking forward to the weekend there. I promise I’ll report back when I return. Heck, I’m bringing my laptop so if I have time I’ll post from the event.
Disclaimer: The event is sponsored by Janssen and Everyday Health. Janssen paid for my travel expenses for the conference. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.