This time last week I had the great privilege of being part of the opening session of HealtheVoices 17. This was the third year that Janssen has sponsored the convergence of online health advocates that represent a wide variety chronic illnesses.

There are times that I think my blog actually does some good (rather than just being a conversation with myself). But I was truly amazed at all the incredible work done by the 105 advocates who attended the conference. There were people with radio shows and podcasts and videos and who head up non-profits and speak before congress and sit on peer review panels for medical trials. The list goes on.

But the important thing is that this conference helps empower those who work daily to make the patient’s voice heard in the health care industry.

With all the important issues facing our nation today, none (IMHO) is more important than health care because everyone is touched by it. And like the canary in the mine shaft, those of us with a chronic illness are impacted the earliest and the most when changes in healthcare occur. We need to initiate the conversation about how proposed changes affect the quality and even the quantity of patients’ lives.

I’m in here, really.

I was very honored to be selected to attend and to gain so much knowledge and energy from both the other attendees as well as the amazing sessions I attended. But this is just a small handful of people and the American healthcare system is huge. We all need to make our voices heard, however we can in whatever manner works for us as individuals.

Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.