Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lupus And RA Have Brought Me Here

So I’ve been eagerly waiting to tell you all what I am doing in New York.

There were various reasons why I couldn’t really talk about it publicly, until now, but I’m so glad I can finally spill the beans.

The main reason I am in New York is because I was accepted into the Health Advocacy Master’s program at Sarah Lawrence College.  I know, I already have a Master’s and PhD in Sociology, but health advocacy has really become my passion over the last several years.

My experiences in higher education had two main consequences.  First, they helped me to realize that I do not want an academic job in sociology.  Second, they helped me to realize that there is a massive hole in the higher education system that does not work to the benefit/favor of chronically ill students, and this is a hole that I am determined to fill. 

I found out about the Sarah Lawrence program rather serendipitously.  A few years ago, I was asked to do a review of the book The Patient’s Checklist, by Elizabeth Bailey, for my blog.  Elizabeth was a student in the Sarah Lawrence program, and the forward of the book was written by Laura Weil, a professor in the program.  I never intended to do more schooling after my PhD, but in this case, it felt right.

The Health Advocacy program at Sarah Lawrence was the first in the country, and maintains a very high level of selectivity.  I can already tell that I am in the company of like-minded people, which is such a change from my previous graduate school experience, in which my health issues and the passions that came from them were silenced rather than celebrated.    

So I researched the program, realized that it was perfect for me, and applied.  I was accepted in February, and had orientation last week.  Classes start this week.  And I’m trying to get used to being back in classes, rather than teaching and working on my dissertation. 

I also will be working at The Partnership For Palliative Care as their Healthcare Social Media Intern.  It is really exciting to be using the skills I have gained as a chronic illness blogger in a new environment.

On the blogging front, I am excited to be joining the blogging team over at Creaky Joints under the auspices of The RA Academe.  I am also excited to have joined the blogging team at rheumatoidarthritis.net, a new and great site by Health Union

I’m getting used to life in New York City, of which my next post will discuss what it’s like to have RA and live the city life.  But for now, I’m so excited and grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that have come my way. 

The last time I saw my rheumatologist, right before I left Michigan, he told me that I seemed different, more confident and sure of myself.  I told him my future plans and how my illnesses have been a driving force of what I hope to do with my life.  He thanked me for my willingness to use my experiences to help others.  And it’s really the first time that I realized that we are on the same team.  We have the same goals.  And if it weren’t for these illnesses, I’m not sure what I would be doing right now, but it probably wouldn’t have been the right thing.

It’s always a bit strange and surreal to find the good out of the chronic illness experience.  But I can say for sure that if it weren’t for lupus and RA, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

While I miss Michigan and my family and friends greatly, this is a really exciting time in my life.  I think I have finally found my niche in terms of the education and work opportunities that I am embarking on (city life not so much…yet…)!  


  1. An exciting time indeed! So glad that you are right where you belong and doing something you are so passionate about.

  2. Sounds fantastic, Leslie! Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  3. As always Leslie, your posts give me that kick of inspiration that I need at the end of the day. In retrospect, I am glad to hear you feel on the same team as your rheumatologist. From what I have read, it seems like many people feel at odds with their rheumatologist, which is troubling.