Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HealtheVoices Conference 2015*

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the HealtheVoices Conference in Jersey City, New Jersey.

I’ve never been to Jersey City before, and it was fun to see New York from the other side of the river.  I have to say, it looks better from that vantage point.

I think the best thing about these types of events is that it’s a chance to get to see each other in person. 

I got to hang out with friends Hurt Blogger Britt, Titanium Triathlete Dina Neils, Rheumablog Wren, Carla Kienast at Carla’s Corner, Mariah of From This Point Forward, and Angela of Inflamed, and I got the chance to meet Aimee Espinosa (Fit Aimee RA), who also has RA.   

I also had the opportunity to see Jenni Prokopy, aka Chronic Babe again.  And I got to meet Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, who I have followed for years, even though I don’t have diabetes.

I also got to see some of the Janssen folk that were at the Joint Decisions Empowerment Summit in Boston in November. 

The unique thing about this conference is that it brought together various disease groups, including, aside from RA, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and metastatic breast cancer. 

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to interact with so many other people from different illness groups.  What struck me the most was that, despite having different diseases, our experiences are very, very similar. 

This was the first year of this conference, and overall I think it was a good start. 

There was a relaxation room, plenty of blankets and hot and cold packs were on hand, food was always available, and overall, it felt like there was an effort made to understand our needs. 

Our RA group had some issues with the chairs.  I felt a little high maintenance having to get up and stretch every hour practically.  But then we commandeered some comfy chairs that were much more manageable. 

I learned a lot of useful information during this conference about the importance of social media, the importance of what we do as bloggers by sharing our stories and advocating for others, and how to be the most successful at blogging. 

I hope that the Everyday Health and Janssen folks got to understand a bit more about the illnesses that were represented at the conference, especially RA. 

It was sad to say goodbye to friends at the end of the conference, but we’ve built lasting relationships that have been fostered both online and in person. 

And the in-person aspect can continue to be fostered at conferences and events such as the HealtheVoices Conference.

*Janssen paid for my travel expenses for the conference; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. 

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