I told myself that I wouldn’t be blogging about the conference for at least a week. Agreeing with my exhausted and pained body that we needed lots of rest, including from social media.

Dina Neils (aka Titanium Triathlete & CreakyJoints SpokesAthlete) #HealtheVoices15

However, I ended up starting this blog on a plane from JFK to Sacramento. My mind has since been reeling with thoughts of the conference and I just couldn’t help myself from turning them into written words.

HealtheVoices was a stellar event – created to empower online advocates from all sorts of diseases and health conditions. I’ve never participated in a conference in which so many diseases/conditions were represented under one roof – cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, HIV, schizophrenia, diabetes, and ulcerative colitis to name a few.

To say that I was honored to serve on the advisory panel would be an understatement. It was so rewarding to plan a conference for such passionate online advocates, and even more amazing watching it all unfold.

The Breakout Sessions were packed full of a variety of useful information. Topics included: meducating & infotaining – changing the culture of medicine through social media, protecting against compassion fatigue, measuring your success online, health & technology megatrends – making the most of your online resources, the write side of the law – common issues in online advocacy, and being a professional patient.

My personal favorites being one the keynotes, ZdoggMD’s meducating & infotaining, as well as breakout session, Tim Cigelske’s measuring your success online.

ZdoggMD (Dr. Zubin Damania), internist and founder of Turntable Health, is revolutionizing the culture of medicine through the use of social media and changing healthcare for the better – follow him on Twitter @ZdoggMD, and Facebook /ZdoggMD.

Tim Cigelske, social media director & adjunct professor at Marquette University, shared technical and anecdotal guidance on measuring success and quantifying results through social media platforms – follow him on Twitter @TeecycleTim, and LinkedIn /Cigelske.

It goes without saying that I learned a lot of really great things. But what made the greatest impact on me, was not the content at all. It was the people – the patient advocates that spoke to the passion in my heart.

It wasn’t during breakout sessions, when I made real lasting connections with people across different health communities. It was in the sharing of our experiences as patients, advocates, bloggers, and just as regular people that I found the most invaluable lessons of the conference.

I learned that although we have different diseases or health conditions and are from different online communities, that we are in fact the same. At the naked core – our struggles are the same, our triumphs are the same, and our hopes and dreams are the same.

Our voices are the same.

We are not alone or confined to the walls of our own communities. We are all in this together, warriors fighting for the collective good. We advocate to create awareness, to make a real difference, to inspire, to be a voice when others are silent.

The amount of strength and inspiration burning within these empowered influencers could move mountains.

Imagine the incredible things we could be capable of doing as one community.

In light of inspiration, I’d like to conclude with two quotes that perfectly exemplify what I’ve gained from HealtheVoices…

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” – Edmond Lee


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

I aspire to do just that…

PS – In efforts of being one collective voice across health communities, I’ll be using #chronictribe on social media. Please join me!

*Disclosure: Janssen paid for my travel expenses for the conference. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.*