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photo credit: maza34 on flickr

Our first month of 2011 is coming to a close! Back when January began, we shared our first Health Activist Blog Carnival (HABC) topic of the new year: write 3 fortunes to your health community. In the spirit of our theme “New Year New You: Setting Health Activism Goals,” this seemed like a fun way to look ahead and think positive. We received some great entries – let’s take a look!

In Kelly’s post “Three Fortune Cookies: What We Hope the Future Holds” she went all-out and created really cool animated cookies that, when you hover over them, reveal the fortunes inside. Her colorful cookies tell her RA community:

  • Empowerment in community will bring change.
  • Expect a breakthrough in public understanding of Rheumatoid disease.
  • Advances in knowledge will improve treatment.

Jenny shared three inspiring quotes to propel her into Health Activism in 2011. Check out her post “Community Cookies” for the reasoning behind these quotes and what she’s planning. Here are the quotes she chose:

  • “Power comes from who you are, not what you have, and the transformation starts with how you allow others to treat you.” ~Suze Orman
  • “I am successful today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down” ~Abraham Lincoln
  • “There is no more satisfying sound than that of wheels in motion.”

Karen took a fun approach to the HABC by doing a little bit of each of the suggestions I made. She did one fortune cookie, one Dove chocolate promise, and one favorite quote. Check out her blog post to see why she decided to go with each. Here’s what she came up with:

  • Confucius say even longest journey begins with one small step.
  • Don’t wait for opportunities, make opportunities.
  • A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. ~Maya Angelou

I think this was a wonderful way to get everyone thinking about 2011 and I loved the creativity people injected into their posts! If you want to write 3 fortunes to your community – please do! It’s a great way to think big and play psychic. And hey – if you think it, you can achieve it, right? When you write your 3 fortunes be sure to leave a link in this discussion in our Health Bloggers group so everyone can see what you predict! Stay tuned for February’s HABC and until then why not check out the wonderful posts featured above?

Earlier this month, we asked you to look ahead into 2011 and pick the top 3 goals you hope to accomplish in your health activism. Well, the results are in!

What are your top 3 Health Activist goals for 2011? (Click to enlarge)

The number one Health Activist goal for the new year is to: “Post more frequently (on your blog, in a forum or community, on Twitter, Facebook, etc.).” The number two goal is “Dedicate more time to reading & commenting on the work of others.” While number three was nearly a tie between “Grow your health community (increase readership, membership, followers, etc.)” and “Collaborate with other Health Activists on a project.” These are all awesome goals and ones that will really help 2011 be The Year of The Health Activist. Now that January’s coming to a close – let’s get started! In the spirit of goal-setting and optimism,  we’ve come up with a handful of ideas to help you to accomplish these goals.

Do you want to…

  • Post more frequently (on your blog, in a forum or community, on Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
    • Print out a calendar and mark which days you will write. Brainstorm topics in the margin and fill them in as you go along.
    • When you’re in the writing mood, take advantage of it! Write ahead of time and save those posts for the future.
    • Schedule posts to “go live” ahead of time so you can spend more time responding to your audience once the posts are live.
    • Ask friends to guest post. Ask a member you admire to guest post – it just might inspire them to become a Health Activist!
    • Reduce, reuse, recycle! It’s ok to write short posts. It’s also a great idea to look back in your archives and resurface some past content and give it new life.
  • Dedicate more time to reading & commenting on the work of others?
    • Organize your bookmarks or Reader into more categories so you can cover your bases and keep up to date.
    • Combine blog-reading with another activity like your morning coffee or lunch break.
    • Remember it’s ok to write a short comment saying “I loved this post! Thanks.” or “This really inspired me and got me thinking.” Not every comment has to be long and in-depth, write what comes to your mind.
    • Try different types of comments – sharing links with the author is a great way to continue the conversation and make connections.
    • Have a running list on a sticky note of blogs you want to comment on.
    • Set yourself a reminder in your calendar or an alarm on your phone to remind you to catch up on your reading/commenting.
  • Grow your health community (increase readership, membership, followers, etc.)?
    • This goes right in line with #1 and #2 – if you post more frequently and comment more often – you are more likely to gain new members if you’re visible!
    • Remember – great content gets noticed. Continue to improve your writing and borrow ideas from bloggers or Health Activists you admire.
    • Use the top 3! Be sure you’re covering all bases and sharing your content on all your social networks.
    • Reach out and network. If you are reading the work of others, you’re exposing yourself to new folks who might want to join your community. Say hello! Invite them back to your community.
    • Promote! If you’re doing something amazing – let us know! Email us or share with the community – we want to help you get recognized!
    • Collaborate! Which brings us to #4…
  • Collaborate with other Health Activists on a project?
    • One of our favorite phrases at WEGO Health is “Just Ask!” Just ask your fellow Health Activists – you never know what great things can happen til you do!
    • Connect through WEGO Health. Ask in the Groups you’re a part of. Ask us – we love to help bring Health Activists together. If you have a project idea and want us to recommend someone – we’d be happy to help.
    • Tweet or Facebook folks that comment on the same posts you comment on – utilize follow Friday (#ff) and find people through weekly chats.
    • Host your own webinar! If you are interested in sharing your work with other Health Activists – you could do a webinar through WEGO Health. Learn about other Health Activist Benefits here.
    • See what other Health Activists are doing for awareness efforts or chats and create your own. Ask for others help with getting started.

What ideas do you have for achieving these? Did you vote for another top 3? What plans do you have for accomplishing them in 2011?

Mary (@ThyroidMary)

To round out January’s focus on Thyroid Awareness Month, we’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with’s Thyroid Disease Guide Mary Shomon about her personal experiences with thyroid disease and her advocacy work both online and off.  Diagnosed in 1995, Mary has been a passionate advocate for thyroid conditions and a Health Activist in every sense of the word. A wonderful and prolific advocate since the days of dial-up, Mary started as many Health Activists do – with diagnosis then self-education. Mary is drawn to correcting misinformation and helping others “fast-forward up the learning curve.” Dedicated to lessening the stigma related to thyroid conditions, she’s doing a lot to counteract incorrect notions about thyroid. In face, this past week Mary has begun to, quite literally, change the “face” of thyroid disease with her awareness campaign I Am The Face of Thyroid Disease with fellow thyroid activist, Katie Schwartz. Thanks, Mary, for taking the time to talk with us today – we’re so excited to learn more about your health activist story and raise awareness for thyroid in our community!

Amanda:  Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you became an advocate for your health condition?  What made you get involved in the first place?

Mary:  I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition back in 1995, and at that time, there were few books available about thyroid disease, and very little information out there. If you said thyroid, the mantra you’d hear was “easy to diagnose, easy to treat.” My doctor called in a prescription for me, and I thought, “great, in a few weeks, I’ll be back to normal.”

It didn’t quite work out that way. My doctor and I tried a variety of approaches, and we were both quite surprised as symptoms continued or even worsened, and new issues appeared.

It was, to be honest, frustrating and frightening.

I also knew nothing about the thyroid, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to learn more about it than the fact that it was “in the neck area!” So I started reading medical journals, and eventually went online — that was in the days when I had such a slow modem that I’d click on a link and then go get a cup of coffee because it took 10 minutes to download a single web page!

A:  What made you decide to bring your crusade online?

Mary:  Online, I connected with other thyroid patients, and it was both encouraging and disheartening. I recognized my own struggles in others’ stories, but I also saw that many of us were having a very difficult time — struggling to get diagnosed in the first place, or struggling to be treated respectfully by doctors, or struggling to get treated, or struggling to get the right treatment. So I created a website, and eventually brought it to what was then the Mining Company, and is now I was putting out articles, doctor interviews, and information that debunks the “thyroid disease is easy to diagnose, easy to treat” myth, and providing more realistic information, guidance and support for people with thyroid disease. Since that time, I’ve written ten books on thyroid disease, launched a patient newsletter called “Sticking Out Our Necks,” and been involved in the creation of a number of sites like the thyroid site ,, Menopause Thyroid Solution, The Thyroid Diet Revolution, and since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, the one of particular interest this time of year, Thyroid Awareness Month. More recently, I’ve branched out to social media — I’m @thyroidmary on Twitter — and Facebook — to get that information out in new ways.

A:  How has the online health community helped to support and educate you?  Have you used it to help support and educate others?

Mary:  The online health community has helped to support and educate me, and I’ve definitely used it to help support and educate others.  I would never have become a thyroid patient advocate if not for the existence of the Internet and online community.

I’ve moderated an active online thyroid support forum since 1997, and I get hundreds of emails from thyroid patients around the globe each week. Many of the story ideas, and thyroid news I’ve covered come from forum questions and emails I receive from other patients and practitioners. At the same time, sending out weekly and monthly thyroid newsletters for more than a decade, answering many thousands of emails, and publishing tens of thousands of articles, my goal has been to help other thyroid patients fast-forward up the learning curve. My mission is to do what I can to make sure that no one has to muddle through thyroid diagnosis and treatment, wondering if they are the only one experiencing difficult symptoms, feeling sick, alone, afraid, and exhausted.  In many ways, I feel as if it’s been a 14 year long conversation. The arrival of social media like Twitter and Facebook has made that conversation even more interactive, supportive and personal.

A:  What has been your proudest moment as a Health Activist?  Or maybe your most challenging one?

Mary:  I don’t know that there is one “proudest moment.” Honestly, I have them regularly. I have a proudest moment every time I receive an email from someone who says they had given up on the idea of every feeling well, and now they are in great health, and living a great life, thanks to information they read at one of my sites, or in one of my books. Or when women write to tell me that they finally got their thyroid tested and treated after reading something I wrote, and now have been able to have a healthy baby, after years of infertility and infertility treatments, while no one ever checked their thyroid. Those are the moments when I have pure gratitude for the fact that I’ve ended up as a patient advocate.

The most challenging moment as a health activist has been in trying to overcome the ongoing stigma of thyroid disease. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Shockingly, thyroid disease is overlooked and ignored by women’s medical groups, even though women are most affected. Endocrinology groups — and endocrinologist are supposed to be specialists in thyroid disease — seem to be much more interested in diabetes, which affects fewer people than thyroid problems. Celebrities — who are usually willing to share every intimate detail of their lives — somehow become reluctant to go public with their thyroid conditions. Even after Oprah was diagnosed with a thyroid condition, she then backpedaled and said that she had been “cured,” then said, no, she wasn’t cured, but she was refusing treatment. Meanwhile, we have advertisers, sitcoms and comedians all using the word “thyroid” as the new acceptable “code” for fat. As I said, there’s a lot more work to be done.

A:  Is there anything that you wish the general public knew about your health condition?

Mary:  What I wish the general public knew about thyroid disease is that we have an estimated 59 million Americans with thyroid problems, and the majority of them are NOT DIAGNOSED. So I want people to

Think thyroid:

  • When you can’t get pregnant, or are suffering recurrent miscarriages
  • When you’re gaining weight inappropriately, or can’t lose weight with diet and exercise
  • When you’re prescribed an antidepressant
  • When you have high cholesterol, and you’re prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medication (or, when the cholesterol-lowering medication isn’t working!)
  • When you’re losing hair, suffering from muscle and joint aches and pains, or chronic constipation
  • When you are feeling unusually tired or fuzzy-brained, and can’t concentrate
  • When you’re struggling with depression or anxiety
  • When you’re a woman over 40 with irregular periods, weight gain, fatigue, sleep problems (and you assume it’s perimenopause!)

And I also want the public to know that it’s not enough for your doctor to say “Your thyroid tests were normal.” You need to know what tests were done, what were the test results, and what levels does the doctor believe are “normal.” Because we have millions of people who are in a thyroid limbo — some doctors would classify them as having thyroid disease worth treating, but others would say they have no problem. And the lab reports say the test results are “normal.”  So people who have thyroid conditions are being told they are normal, and left to suffer. It’s not fair, but we simply can not assume that all doctors know this, because they don’t. So WE as patients have to learn as much as we can, and advocate for ourselves, in order to get proper thyroid diagnosis and treatment.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Mary, and for all that you do to raise awareness for thyroid conditions!

Learn more about Thyroid Awareness Month and be sure to check out more of her work and interact with her and her community now:

Check out Mary’s Thyroid Site and check out her book The Menopause Thyroid Solution

Follow Mary on Twitter and Facebook (check out the Info section for more of Mary links!)

Check out the I Am The Face of Thyroid Disease awareness campaign:

photo credit Victor Bezrukov on Flickr

Get your community involved! Finish this tweet (or Facebook status or both if you’d like):

My health in one word is: _____.

Which adjective fits best to describe your health?

Feel free to use this as a discussion in your community or as a jumping off point for a quick blog post today.

Do you think you can describe your health in one word? Would you make up a new word to describe your health? (One of my favorite things to do is create new words – especially mush-words or portmanteaus.)

So go ahead – what’s your health in one word? Link in the comments or add the hashtag #wegohealth

The best tweets will make it into the Finish This Tweet Hall of Fame.

Here is Part Two of my interview with Katie Schwartz, founder of Dear Thyroid. (Click here to read Part One)

Katie (@dearthyroid)

Amanda: Dear Thyroid is a different kind of health community and it says so right in the first line of the About page. What made you decide to bring your crusade online?

Katie Schwartz: Being a writer, I have an ongoing love affair with words. I believe that each person (when they are ready) must tell their story in their own words. Our slogan is “Healing our thyroids one letter at a time”. We mean that literally and metaphorically. Write and submit as many letters as it takes. Join our conversations in comments, and on our chat boards.

If we don’t tell our stories, we are doing our respective diseases a huge disservice. We learn from each other. (By we, I mean the collective we.) We tell the medical community what’s not working. We bridge the gap between families and patients. We experience a degree of healing through the realization that someone else has gone through exactly what we have.

To quote Joanna Isbill “Dear Thyroid™ is changing the way we talk about thyroid disease and cancer. We are starting a new conversation using YOUR words.”

Words are the key to all doors, in my opinion. Our community has written hundreds of thousands of powerful words, humorously, irreverently, angrily, sadly and happily.  And always, always honestly.

A: What inspired you to create this unique community?

KS: Providing a literary outlet for our community to come together, and write their story on their terms, in as many ways as they wish. That and a desperate, burning passion for change. We deserve better. Too many doctors treat thyroid disease like a ‘no brainer’, akin to the flu.  We empower each other, to become our own patient advocates, to change the way we communicate with our doctors, our families, our friends and each other. We have guest bloggers, some are doctors, others are health advocates, or nutrition experts.

@BigGirlFeats said the best thing I’ve heard in a long time regarding thyroid cancer “That it’s an “easy” cancer it’s the best kind!” She went on to say “Ok, than YOU take it for me!!”

How dare any doctor tell patients how lucky they are to have this fabulous cancer?! Package it in a Tiffany box; Cancer is cancer, is cancer. Period!

Too many doctors marginalize thyroid autoimmune diseases. They barely explain what it is or what it does. Few of us walk out of the doctor’s office knowing what a thyroid is, even AFTER diagnosis! If left untreated or mistreated, this disease can kill you. Over 59MM people have a thyroid condition and over 20MM don’t know it. This is a pandemic issue with little funding, awareness or education. Most people don’t know where their thyroid is located, much less the power it has over a person’s mind and body. Become your own patient advocate. We provide a lot of resources.

As a few of our community members said: “Treat the patient, not the chart!” (Jill) “Why must I fight for normality?” (Amy). “Thyroid disease leads to brain drain” (Bonnie). “Wading through this crap to live!” (Linda).

That and more inspires the drive to do more, more, more.

A: What has been your proudest moment as a health activist?

KS: There have been so many. One that I recall off the top of my head was with a woman who wanted support, but wasn’t ready to write a letter. I asked her if she’d be comfortable emailing with me. She was. Over the course of a few months, on her own, she submitted a letter. I was so proud of her because I knew what a challenge it was for her to share that letter. We chatted during the entire process, from the moment it was published and while she was receiving comments. At the end of the day, she said “I found my voice.” She added that she’d never felt the level of support that she received from our community and how indescribable the experience was. She doesn’t know this, but I sobbed tears of joy for her.

A: The most challenging one?

KS: In the beginning a few folks took umbrage with the uncensored language, lack of religion and pin-ups that we pair with each literary piece. My goal was to engage, and make sure they understood why I made those choices for the brand, not to change their minds. I wanted them to feel heard because I did hear them. What was so great was that a few of those folks ultimately became community members. They understood, on a very deep level why Dear Thyroid was different and how that difference might be of value to them.

A: What do you wish the general public knew about the thyroid and thyroid conditions?

KS: Thyroid conditions are not an excuse to be fat! Conversely, people who look anorectic might have a thyroid condition. Stop assuming. Thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers are very serious health issues, psychiatrically and physically. Thyroid disease and thyroid cancer can kill you. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t judge and don’t mock a disease you know nothing about. Think about what you want to say before saying it.

PLEASE check your neck. Request a full thyroid function blood panel. Look up the symptoms of thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers, and if you think you have a thyroid condition, run like a dog to an endocrinologist. Oh, and for those who think this is an easy fix or an inexpensive disease to treat. WRONG. This disease is very costly.

A: What do you do when you’re not advocating?

KS: Writing, rinse and repeat. I’m also reinventing myself. Reading – I’m a Beat Literature junky. Collecting – vintage tchotchkes and perfumes. Rebuilding – relationships. Adding new cards to my “Guilt Rolodex” and maintaining a high level of neuroses.

It’s a brand new year, what is in store for the future Dear Thyroid and thyroid awareness overall? We are SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS YEAR! All caps and an exclamation point, word! New partnerships are in the mix, becoming a fully fledged non-profit, launching our family outreach and support program, and doing everything we can to continue our unique approach to awareness, education and support.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview Dear Thyroid. We very much appreciate and the good work you do.

Special thanks to Katie for sharing her story with me. I eagerly await more of her impending advocacy endeavors and hope to be able to feature more of her and her community’s work on the blog!

Learn more about Thyroid Awareness Month and be sure to check out more of her work and interact with her and her community now:

Visit Dear Thyroid™ and see the Dear Thyroid profile on WEGO Health

Follow Dear Thyroid and Katie on Twitter

“Like” Dear Thyroid on Facebook

Check out Katie’s new Awareness campaign “I am The Face of Thyroid Disease” that she created with Mary Shomon (@ThyroidMary and

Participate in our January poll! Going off our theme “New Year, New You: Setting Health Activism Goals” – we have come up with 9 great goals for Health Activists (and a space for you to write your own!). Which of these are most important to you in 2011? Which 3 top your list of 2011 Health Activist goals?

Thanks for your vote! We’ll look at the results at the end of the month and see what was most popular with the WEGO Health community of Health Activists.

Be sure to share this poll with your community! Use this short URL:

Tell us why you chose the 3 you did – leave a comment!

As an awesome online health leader, creating content for your health community is your passion! But sometimes it can be challenging to come up with topics to go off of. Health Activists – never fear! WEGO Health is here to give you some post prompts.

Introducing our fun new feature: First Friday Post Prompts. Every first Friday of the month, we’ll be giving you some ideas to help inspire you to create that fantastic Health Activist content you are known for. If you happen to find yourself in that unpleasantly familiar blog-writing-rut at any time during this month, simply come back here to this post and borrow one of these five prompts to get your imagination going. I’ve found that sometimes the most fun (and surprisingly the best) writing can come from being assigned a topic. How does that sound?

Check out these content prompts for January and see what ones resonate for YOU:

1. Are you making your goals for 2011 S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive)? What are your Health Activist goals for 2011, and can you map them using this acronym?

2. It’s a new year, and a time for setting up new health habits. What’s the best tip you’ve ever received on setting and achieving a health goal? Were there words of advice that helped you make your goal a reality?

3. Nothing says “New Year” like needing a vacation from the busy holiday season. As a Health Activist, how do you help your community deal with getting back on track after taking a few weeks off from health management during the holidays?

4. January is a time for trying new things, and thankfully, there are a lot of tools available for Health Activists to help spread the word about their advocacy. Is there a communication tool (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, DailyBooth) that you’ve been itching to try but haven’t jumped in yet? Now the perfect time to try one out and share your experiences as you get rolling!

5. Photos are among the most effective sharing tools we have, as Health Activists. Are you willing to show your Health Activist face to the world? If you’d rather retain your anonymity, try sharing a photo of what life with your health condition is like. It could be the start of a great photo 365 project!

Check back every “First Friday” for five more prompts for you to consider, and customize. Bring them back to your communities and start a discussion, blog, or vlog about it. If one of the prompts sparks something awesome – check back in and leave a link – we’d love to see which direction you took it and give you some linky love in return!

Well, friends, 2011 is eagerly waiting offstage for its grand entrance as 2010 finishes the last of its routine and takes a final bow. Before it’s all over, let’s give 2010 an online standing ovation (and mini-encore) by commemorating the incredible year it has been!

2010 was a powerful year here at WEGO Health HQ and in the world of online (and offline!) Health Activism. This was a big year for growing, defining goals, and moving from big ideas to real, tangible action. The WEGO Health team had the awesome (and invaluable) opportunity to finally connect with our online friends in person, brought Health Activists together to speak about their common goals and tell healthcare companies what their communities really need, and really watched health social media take flight. And, you know, it wasn’t easy to boil it down to just 10 favorites – but here’s what we’ve come up with! (And read on to see what I’m most looking forward to in 2011!)

1. Boston Health Activist Meetups!

We held our very first in-person Health Activist meetup this past April. Health Activists in the Boston area joined us for awesome conversation and a drink or two. For the very first time, we got to see how influential connecting face-to-face can be. Health Activists focused on different conditions came together and shared how they got started and found common ground, realizing their communities need the same support and dedication. The WEGO Health team is lucky to be stationed in such a rich city and now that we’ve hosted a few Boston meetups (our second was in September), we’re ready to expand and visit a city near you. 2011 is going to be an exciting year for meetups just you wait! Until then check out all of our blog posts recapping both meetups and borrow the tips we compiled.

2. New Health Activist opportunity: Voices to Industry
Two worlds collided when we brought Health Activists and Pharma together in the same room. Through respectful (and frankly, fascinating) discourse, both “sides” of the health sphere met and discussed everything from the necessity of Pharma’s participation in social media to the complex regulations healthcare companies must go through before facing the public with their product. (Learn more about “Voices to Industry” here.) As an onlooker at our Socialpalooza event and I could see the brain-gears turning as Health Activists offered their honest perspectives to Pharma reps. One of the most memorable moments was when one Pharma rep discussed the rigid regulatory climate that led to the creation of in an invented patient-character tweeting about a condition on behalf of the company. Health Activists on the panel explained that this is not ok with the online community and that patients living with a condition can easily detect an imposter. These are the pieces of insight that Health Activists want to tell healthcare companies and their consensus was: “if you want to know, just ask us!”. Check out the Socialpalooza recap for more and be on the lookout for the Voices to Industry opportunities in 2011!

3. WEGO Health sponsors Ning Networks!
Back in July, Medical Marketing & Media (MMM) saidWEGO Health throws Ning network users a lifeline with sponsorship.” For us, it just made sense. What better way to promote Health Activism than by helping those who started their own online health communities to continue to do so for free? Through our Ning sponsorship we connected with some incredible Health Activists and were able to help thousands of community members continue to receive support and connect with each other. It was a perfect way to really enact our mission of “empowering Health Activists to help others.” See what Diabetes Activist Manny said about the sponsorship and check out two of our sponsored networks Jason’s Crohn’s Disease Support Network and Terry’s Friends with MS.

4. Watching your vlog debuts!
While some Health Activists aren’t strangers to the bright lights of video blogging, others took the plunge and recorded their very first vlog this year! Many of you did so to participate in our October Vlog Carnival with icyou. We could only choose 4 winners, all of whom did an amazing job, but (to risk sounding cliche) everyone who participated was a winner! Everyone who submitted a video had us all cheering. Being behind our keyboards and monitors all day reading text just can’t compete with seeing your faces as you spoke aloud about your Activism, you know! Here’s to hoping that more of you will jump in and try video as a way to connect with your communities in 2011.

5. Meeting Health Activists IRL (in real life)
As with many of you, most of our correspondence happens through the written word and occasionally on the phone. So interacting with people face-to-face that we’ve “met” online was a huge opportunity and really helped deepen the relationships we have with our community members and that all of you have with each other. There’s something about physically seeing a person and hearing their voice that really adds a new level of connection. It can be easy to forget how powerful it is to sit down and talk with someone in person and see their mannerisms and expressions – but it really is! And, on the flip side, meeting people in person actually improves interaction on social media platforms. Once you’ve really gotten to know someone’s personality, you are able to pick it out in key ways through their blogs, Twitter, and other online work in a way you weren’t before. Personally, I hope there is a lot more of this in 2011!

6. Your WEGO Health Blogs
Health Activists work in different ways. Some of you are adept at giving advice in forums while others of you work best through Facebook and Twitter. We love that and will always embrace the many forms you use to advocate. But it was great to see how many of you came by the community and shared your thoughts with us through your own
WEGO Health Blog. Whether you were updating us on the latest news, sharing what your community was working on, or sharing links to your favorite sites – it added a really rich layer to the community. It was really fun, for me, to see folks start blogging and really come into their own with their writing voice. Many of the blogs were so great that they inspired new members to comment and interact, across conditions, which is exactly what we hope to do more of! You’re great storytellers and each of your perspectives is unique – I’m really looking forward to seeing how you continue to share with us and each other in the future.

7. WEGOwebinars
Did you know Health Activists are smart? Of course you did. But did you know just how great Health Activists are when they put their minds together? Our 2010 WEGOwebinars offered a brand new way to have a meeting of the minds that also served as a real resource for others. Combining the hard work, great efforts, moving stories, genuine dedication, and sometimes even confession made for a type of webinar presentation unlike any other. In 2011, you can expect more webinars from more Health Activists and you will have the opportunity to revisit and share past webinars through our soon-to-be-released WEGOwebinar page.

8. New Groups
We’re always looking for better ways to improve conversation among Health Activists. By adding new Groups in 2010, health leaders in more specific areas were able to come together and help each other in an in-depth way. Our new groups in 2010 were:
Leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Hepatitis, Ning for Health Activists, and Health Technology.
We hope you will continue to find the groups useful and a great way to talk leadership with other leaders dedicated to your condition that share your interests. I think our brand new
Health Technology group is especially exciting!

9. Spotlights & Interviews
This year we got right to the heart of some incredible health communities and heard directly from their founders. We learned what got these leaders started on their Health Activism journeys, heard what truly excites them, and uncovered what they wish the general public knew about the cause they advocate for. Each interview was as unique as its subject, but it was easy to spot consistent themes and see just how much our community members have in common. The interviews were also a great source of inspiration for anyone seeking new ideas or encouragement to take that next step and: start blogging, try non-profit work, raise awareness, create a support network, and even influence legislation. See all our Spotlights on our
Community home page and here in the WEGOblog. There is really no substitute for this feature and you can bet we’ll have even more interviews, spotlights, and features on more of you and your peers in 2011. You’re doing great work and we promise to highlight it and help you get the word out!

10. Health Activist Blog Carnival
It’s hard to believe this wasn’t always a WEGO Health staple – but our Health Activist Blog Carnival debuted in back January 2010! The Blog Carnival offered community members the chance to think about their work critically, share honestly, and talk about what keeps them going. Each month had its own focus and gave bloggers the opportunity to write about something a little bit different. By looking at advocacy from a new angle, lots of great revelations happened.
Just look at all of the topics we covered! In 2011, you can expect even more of these types of activities. Here on the WEGO Health blog in particular, we’ve got a lot planned. I can guarantee more features, interviews, projects, ideas, take-aways, prompts, factoids, and exciting ways to get involved.

It was an exceptional year in Health Activism both on WEGO Health and beyond, in each of your health communities. Our WEGO Health team has lots planned for the new year and will have even more fun ways (and exciting opportunities) for you to participate in and to continue do the amazing work you’re doing!

This was our collective submission to the last Blog Carnival of 2010! If you want to check out others’ Top 10 lists swing by the discussion here and feel free to write a quick list of your own.

Thanks to everyone in our community and across the online world – you always seem to always find new ways to inspire us and remind us that our work to empower you Health Activists to help others is important and totally worth it! See you next year!

Our WEGO Health team is on the search for some energetic, talented interns to join us as part of our awesome Boston offices! As a WEGO Health intern you will learn all about the world of Health Activism and online health leadership. You will tweet, blog, research, learn, and more! (If you’re as excited as I am, read on…)

We’re offering 3 types of internships in a few different areas. Here are the particulars:

WEGO Health is a different kind of social media company, serving as a trusted liaison between online health leaders (Health Activists) and leading healthcare companies. Through online community and unique education programs, WEGO Health empowers these leaders to help others in the online health world.

As an energetic start-up, it’s a great place for people who are smart, self-starters, who love social media and want to connect with savvy online bloggers, tweeps, and leaders in the online health world.

Apply for 1 (or more) of the following:

1. Online Editorial Internship
A great opportunity for Journalism majors, Writing or English majors, and all people interested in Social Media. For those who love online research, can write well, and are naturally inquisitive. You will: research a variety of health topics, blog, encourage conversation among community members, identify the best web content about health and engage with those awesome content creators, and spread the word about Health Activism!

2. Sponsor Programs Internship
A great opportunity for Marketing, PR, Health Communication, or Communication majors. You will focus on our sponsor programs, helping to create sales decks for our healthcare company clients, work on research decks, and help to implement best practices across sponsor programs including education projects for Health Activists!

3. Marketing Internship
A great opportunity for Marketing/Branding/Business majors or anyone who is interested in Social Media marketing, email marketing, SEO, metrics, etc. You will be focused on brand identification and consistency, develop programs to add reach to our brand, create continuity across current social networks and applications, help take our social media strategy to the next level!

Since we’re all about personal growth and helping others pursue their goals; all internships will be customizable by the individual interns. We want each member of our team find their favorite way to contribute and really make the most of their breadth of interests!

So if you (or someone you know) is interested in applying for a for-credit internship please email us at and send over a resume and cover letter or personal statement. We’ll also be googling for your internet-presence so if you wanted to send over links that would aid in that process! And if you want the whole internship description – we can send that to you as well.

We’ve got so many exciting projects planned for 2011 and we’d love to have you join us!

November may be over, but the Thanksgiving spirit lives on! For our latest Health Activist Blog Carnival we asked “What are 3 things you’re thankful for in your Health Activism? This topic allowed for some great reflection and an opportunity to see some trends in what we all value in our leadership journeys.

Here are a few highlights:

Susan is thankful for Perspective. She says, “I am extremely thankful for the perspective that comes with Health Activism. Sure, whatever I am facing today might be tricky, painful, horrible even… but the perspective to look around and realize that 1. It’s probably not as bad as someone else’s day 2. I am not alone and 3. I have a strong support network… is invaluable.”

In her reflection, Janeen thanked her Family. As she put it, “Being a Health Activist doesn’t come without compromise. The time I spend on the computer doing research or sharing information is time that I’m not spending with my family. But my family is always very understanding and always supportive. They are my cheerleaders. They are always there to lift me up when I am down, to cheer for me when I’ve done good, and to be my inspiration when I don’t think that I can keep going.”

Nicole thanks Awesome Autism Bloggers on the web. She said, “I had definitely heard of [Autism] before, but it wasn’t until I began really digging deep that I gained a true understanding of the condition…these bloggers are the perfect example of health activism. There are tons of great activists out there blogging for tons of causes, and I feel like I can learn from all of them, if only I had the time!

Emily gives a shoutout to her University, “As part of a program at my school, I took a yearlong class about HIV/AIDS in South Africa which required me to travel to Cape Town for two weeks. [There] I met HIV/AIDS activists who operated on extremely limited funds, but still managed to spread their message across the country and make a dramatic impact on their fellow citizens. It was also here that I realized that I too was a health activist!

Amy (and few others of us, myself included) thanked Social Media and Twitter in particular. Amy said it well, “Thank you for connecting me to resources and people I never even dreamed of being connected to. Thank you for fostering education, empowerment and better health for me and my family. Because of the “power of me” that I found by utilizing social media, I am healthier, more confident and have more hope. It is because of you that I am largely able to be a Health Activist, and for that, I cannot thank you enough.”

What a wonderful thought to end on!

Thank you to all of those who participated and be sure to read everyone’s blog posts if you haven’t yet. If you want to tell us what you’re thankful for – feel free to add a post to the discussion. And keep the holiday spirit going – we’ve got one more month left in 2010 so here’s to making the very best of it!