2021 was a difficult year for me because of a break up, trauma, injuries, and the ups and downs that come with my chronic illness. The province I live in has experienced natural disasters and the world is experiencing another year of the pandemic.
However I’m not trying to focus on the difficult times or that I feel like I barely left my home. I still managed to do so much in 2021 without leaving my house that often.
My home also became better for me in 2021 after I moved from living in that apartment for 7 years. I feel better since moving despite my health declining as the pandemic rages on. Another year into the pandemic I realize just how important regular exercise is for living with rheumatoid arthritis but motivation, inspiration and social pressure have been eliminated for me with the closure or restrictions of gyms and saunas. To add to the discomfort my health has been bumpy, it’s not been the most motivating combination.
2021 was my 5th year as an advocate for chronic illness and my most successful year. I define success not by how much money I make off my advocacy but the audience I am speaking to. The pandemic has made my advocacy louder and I am grateful for those listening. Advocacy helps me keep going
Here are some of my highlights of 2021.
NY Fashion Week and World Arthritis Day
I was in NY Fashion Week where I designed tshirts for rheumatoid arthritis. Thanks to Creaky Joints and Michael Kuluva for inviting me to participation in such a unique and creative way to create some rheumatoid arthritis awareness!
World Arthritis Day
For World Arthritis Day on October 12th Creaky Joints and I teamed up to spread the hashtag #FiercelyFightingArthritis around the globe. I was so touched to see many beautiful faces from round the globe taking part in the campaign.
I used to be terrified of public speaking but over the last few years I’ve reduced a lot of my anxiety around it having seen how important the patient voice is. I presented at and attended several conferences. I also presented or partnered with major pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, universities and health organizations to educate others about rheumatoid arthritis.
In The Media
I’ll be honest, during Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada it was extremely difficult to get the media to feature arthritis which was a bit heart breaking for me having had some exciting advocacy spotlights that month. However I was in the media from radio, podcasts, print, online and TV numerous times throughout 2021. Being immunocompromised and young was the trending topic for being in the media as the pandemic looms on.
Patient Leader Hero
I was a finalist for the 2021 WEGO Health Awards for my Instagram and Patient Leader Hero. While I wasn’t the selected winner it was an honor to be a finalist x 2! Thanks to everyone who nominated me.
Chronic Eileen: Writer
I wanted to be a writer when I was a little girl, rheumatoid arthritis made that dream come true.
I wrote 39 articles that were published or sponsored. My words got a lot of attention from patients who needed to hear them and researchers and doctors who needed to understand them.
Advocating At The Highest Level
I continued to advocate with Doctors of BC Shared Care Chronic Pain Advisory Committee, Canadian Health Institute of Health Research Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis as a Patient Engagement Research Ambassador and as a member of the Arthritis Research Canada Patient Advisory Board. I am entering my 4th year participating in research which I believe has been one of the most beneficial activities I have taken towards my health and understanding RA. I have also created priceless connections with other patients, organizations, doctors and researchers in the arthritis and chronic illness community.
I am hoping 2022 will be another successful year in my advocacy. Thank you everyone who’s supported me throughout this journey. When I started this in 2017 I never imagined I’d get this far or just how important patient advocacy would become for me.
While life has many ups and downs, I am excited to see what my advocacy and writing bring me in 2022 as they bring a light to me in darkness.
2021 Top 10 Most Read Chronic Eileen Blog Posts
- What It’s Like to Have a Mom with Rheumatoid Arthritis – Through the Perspective of an Almost 8 Year Old.
- February 2nd is Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Day: What You Need To Know
- Talk Over RA: Diet, Myths and Rheumatoid Arthritis with The Arthritis Dietitian
- Rheumatoid Arthritis and My Period
- Annoying Things People Say About My Chronic Illness
- What I Discovered after using a Fitbit to Track my Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sleep and Exercise with Rheumatoid Arthritis – A Patient Presentation at the 2021 Canadian Arthritis Research Conference
- I Tried Meal Delivery Kits to Ease My Life With Chronic Illness – Did It Work For Me?
- What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Really Feel Like? The 10 Descriptions You Won’t Read in an Office Pamphlet – Creaky Joints
- How I Handle Extreme Heat Waves Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis – Creaky Joints