arthritis foundation, conference, creaky joints, joint decisions, juvenile arthritis

Conference Catch-up

There is so much from the last few months to catch up on!
After visiting Toronto earlier this year, I made my way to Phoenix, Arizona, for the Juvenile Arthritis Conference (West). 
Being able to be around some of my favorite advocates is something that I truly love about attending these conferences… but to present? That was a whole new level of awesome. 
I was so blessed to be able to present with my pals Mariah Leach and Jeremy Forsyth as well. Their dedication to helping others, being informative, and being silly matched me so well. Jeremy, for example, thought we could loosen everyone up by screaming sex in ridiculous ways before our session started.
It worked and that laughter was so contagious.
We definitely tried to copy that at the east JA Conference in Philly in August, where Keegan Stephen was our male expert.
These two groups of college-aged peeps with various types of arthritis were so engaged, so interested, and so in tune with wanting to learn everything they could about what we were saying. So many thoughtful questions came out of both the west and the east conferences. Over at Chronic Sex, Mariah and I will be going through the question cards and providing some answers within the next few months.
All of this gives me so much hope for what Chronic Sex can and will be able to accomplish. I am SO excited.
In September, I traveled back to California to present Chronic Sex at Stanford Medicine X.
I got to spend time with some of my favorite people like Dawn Gibson and Heather Corini Aspell. I also got to room with my pal Danielle Edges who FINALLY got to meet my sister.
I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING. Seriously, this picture alone was worth my travels. My sister and Danielle have become close friends and we’re almost like triplets with time in between our births. It’s just too awesome.
Dawn spent a few days near where my sister lives with me and got to spend time playing auntie. I spent a couple of extra days and then headed down to Los Angeles for the Women in Pain conference… BUT not before meeting one of my favorite people in the world, Kate McCombs!
We had dinner the night before the conference and then spent basically the whole next day together, from the conference to just hanging out.
There are so many people in my life that mean so much to me, but meeting Kate in person is something that I cannot even put into words. We are so similar and so in-tune with each other, bringing out the most compassionate parts of ourselves to deal not only with our own illnesses but helping others as well.
I stayed an extra night to spend time on the Queen Mary because I have a ghost hunting problem… though I was so tired, I didn’t try this time!
In October, I was lucky enough to attend the Joint Decisions Empowerment Summit in Philadelphia. 
One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was spending time doing the Bioexperience tour at Janssen! That alone needs its own blog post because it was absolutely fascinating to see how much pharmaceutical companies care about us – how we’re going to administer treatments, costs, protective measures, and more.
Well, and then I got to spend time with some of my absolute favorite people in the world from Janssen, Tonic, and us Joint Decisions/Creaky Joints peeps!
I got a new nickname from Kenzie, too: whimsical unicorn warrior. 
It’s my absolute favorite thing ever.
I already have written about my experience at the summit with the What I Be project, so make sure to check that out, too.
And then it was back to New York, this time for a project with Healthline. A pharma company wanted to hear more about the patient (and patient advocate/activist) experience. I was lucky to hang out with some amazing people like Emily Lemiska and MarlaJan Wexler:
I had been jokingly looking at Hamilton ticket prices because I am obsessed with the play as we all know.
Turns out that it was just slightly less than my stipend to go see it alone while I was in New York so guess what I did?
It was so amazing. I cannot even fully put the experience into words. It was well worth the post-show in-flight migraine.
I had a big week last week, conference-wise and seeing Hamilton and more!
When I got back, I was able to do some podcasting, work on homework, and, you know, just casually meet my favorite person in the world – Joe Biden.
This picture was a big fucking deal y’all. YES.
Later this week, I’m headed back to New York – this time for a family vacation with T’s mom and stepdad to visit his sister and her dude who live in Queens. I am so excited to go travel where I’m not necessarily tweeting and such but able to be silly.
More conferences are on the way, though thankfully not until 2017. I’m ready to expand the work that I do and help others as much as I can.
Disclaimer time: the Arthritis Foundation, Stanford Medicine X, and Women in Pain all paid for my travels to and/or from their conferences. Janssen Pharmaceuticals paid for my travels to the Joint Decisions Empowerment Summit and provided perks while traveling. Healthline paid for my travel as well as providing me a stipend for my time in New York. All opinions here, though, are mine and mine alone.

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