Well that was a week I won’t forget in a hurry! So much has happened that I am having to look back through my blog and social media posts to remember it all. For those that missed it, here’s a recap…
National radio campaign
It started with the launch of Versus Arthritis’ national radio ‘takeover’ campaign. Starting on Monday, my story, along with 7 others were used to raise awareness of the impact of arthritis on the lives and relationships of those suffering with the disease and their loved ones.
My story focussed on parenting and what arthritis takes from me. This is probably the subject I am best known for speaking on within the community so it seemed appropriate. It was aired on Heart, Classic, Radio X, Gold and Capital (amongst others). It was a real honour to be able to put my own voice and words to the campaign.
Versus Arthritis tells my story
On Thursday, Versus Arthritis published an article on my story based on a recent interview with them. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I was from the response to this. So many kind messages of support and quite a few tears shed reading them!
If I was still feeling daunted at the prospect of all this attention on my personal circumstances, this was the moment that made me realise I was doing the right thing.
I was a little naive, I suppose, when I first started blogging and this website. I couldn’t understand why I was getting so much traction back in January and February – just two months after I started it. In my eyes, I was this guy with arthritis ranting about my situation, what I was doing to fight it and that more people should know about this. I never thought for a second anyone was actually reading it! It certainly makes you think more about your writing once you know that, I can assure you.
Article published in the Eastern Daily Press
Off the back of the radio advert, the Eastern Daily Press, Norfolk’s regional paper, got in touch with the PR company that was assigned to me from Versus Arthritis.
I just want to jump in here and say that Abby from the PR company, who has been advising me on all of this and making arrangements for these interviews, has been amazing.
Some of the comments I received told me how confident and inspiring I was with my words and story – I can assure you, I’m not! This has been daunting for me. To have Abby reassuring me every step of the way, understanding when my illness meant I couldn’t say yes to every opportunity and just generally having my back in these conversations, made such a difference. She won’t read this but I wanted to say thank you.
I was apprehensive about the interview as it’s my local paper so all those people I was keeping my health from had the potential to see everything that was going on. Secondly, I was worried it would be all about lockdown, isolation and Covid-19. Therefore, when I read the article this morning, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the reporter had focused on the disease itself and my personal story.
Reflecting as the dust settles
I literally spent the whole of Friday reading and replying to messages, on Facebook, Instagram and directly. I’ve never had an experience like that. So many kind words from complete strangers. It blew my mind.
I don’t have exact figures but my articles have been read over 1000 times since the start of the week (crazy!). I have had around 80 new followers on Instagram, close to the same on my Facebook page, a whole host of new subscribers on my brand new mailing list and have been inundated with offers from people wanting to contribute to my website, share their story etc.
I am trying to collate these offers but if I miss somebody, please give me a nudge! It’s important that we raise awareness for all types of arthritis and autoimmune disease, not just the three that I have.
As I put on one of my Instagram posts:
2019 was horrible for me, 2020 in terms of my health isn’t much better but at least I have focus now. A purpose and those messages in the last 24hrs reassured me of that.https://www.instagram.com/p/B_VtovqjxjT/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
We still have a couple of opportunities to raise awareness on different platforms next week. I’ll keep you posted on that. And in the meantime, please do keep sharing, getting in touch and following. The larger the community we have around this project, the greater the voice it gives me to raise awareness.
Thank you. Joel.