Over the weekend, I attended Australia + New Zealand’s very first Health eVoices Conference. The conference has been running for a few years in the US (where I once received an accidental invite because they thought I lived in Melbourne, Florida. But that’s another story). Health eVoices aims to bring health advocates with an online presence together to network and discuss the future of online advocacy.
Disclaimer: As Health eVoices was sponsored by Janssen, they paid for my flights, meals and accommodation during the conference. Although I haven’t been asked to write about it, this is something I have chosen to do and these are my thoughts and opinions.
The day and a half was jam packed with motivational speakers, who shared their stories and tips on using social media to be a health advocate. Apart from being drenched in awe and inspiration from speakers and other delegates, there were many moments of reflection:
Gratitude, a sense of humour and resilience is paramount. When things go wrong, sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Fighting and advocating for our health requires so much patience and strength we don’t even know we have until we look back. On days when giving up seems like the best option, be impressed with what you’ve done because it’s bloody impressive. We don’t often give credit where credit is due. Remember all your achievements and know that you have the strength to keep pushing through.
Stay grounded and be humble. When Jimmy Niggle’s best mate passed away from skin cancer 7 years ago, he has been fighting to raise awareness of melanoma and skin checks using his very impressive beard through Beard Season. Through his work, he’s not only ran some great campaigns, he’s saved lives. Yet, even with all that he’s achieved, Jimmy is grounded, down to earth and ridiculously humble. He’s proof that from little things, big things grow (with a lot of hard work, persistence, trial and error and tumbling through life).
Always remember why you started your advocacy journey. Whether you do it as a job or as a volunteer, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when things get tough. Remember why you started on this journey in the first place. I started my blog to share my experiences and reflect on life with diabetes. I decided to go into research to bridge the gap between what we as people with diabetes deal with and what’s in the literature. They’re all an important part of what I do, but I would never dream of making an income from my blog.
Even as I reflect on the weekend, I continue to be inspired by the people in the room. They have been dealt a crappy health card but have taken the courage to step up and speak up about it. When life hands you lemons…sell them and buy yourself some chocolate!