An Unexpected Honour

Earlier this week, I was notified that Face Forward received nominations for two WEGO Health Activist Blog Award categories: Best Kept Secret and Best in Show. I’m feeling incredibly honoured and grateful to be counted amongst such passionate and inspiring health advocates!


As my long-time readers and newfound followers, I hope you will consider supporting Face Forward by taking a moment to vote.  Click on the WEGO Health Activist Award image on the sidebar, or click here to be directed to my profile link. They allow you to vote twice, once for each of the categories I am nominated for. They don’t allow you to vote for both at the same time, so you will have to click the endorsement button again to vote for the second category. I also encourage you to nominate a health activist in your life and to check out the rest of the nominees and their respective causes. It’s amazing to see so many people advocating for, and creating positive change in patient care and support!

One of the things I love about the WHAAs is that the contest isn’t driven by popularity alone. The top 3 nominees with the most endorsements (votes) in each category will automatically become finalists, but the remaining finalists will be determined by other factors. A nominee’s blog/social media follower count isn’t considered in the judging process either, which gives lesser known blogs a fighting chance. Becoming a finalist would be exciting, but my real hope is that my nomination will create more visibility for the site, so I can connect with more people. As I said in my last post, I really want to increase FF’s reader-driven content and this could be a great way to do it!

Coming up next on Face Forward, I’ll be posting my thoughts on public awareness campaigns, inspired by the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge criticisms and the commencement  of Lupus Awareness Month. My first of what I hope to be a series of reader suggested posts will make its debut as well! Oh, and be sure to check out the newly posted “FF Quote of the Moment” on the side bar. It’s one of my all-time favourite proverbs that has, at particularly troubling and difficult junctures of my life, given me focus and perspective.

So in closing, I want to send out a big thank you to WEGO Health for all they do for health advocacy and to you, my readers, for all your support!

FACE FORWARD’s 5th Birthday: Elena’s List of Favourite Posts

The last month has been chock full of milestones: 13 years since my official diagnosis with Lupus, 5 years since my Lupus Cerebritis flare-up, and just last week, the 5th birthday of Face Forward’s strange and unexpected emergence into the blogosphere. To celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite posts from each of the last five years:

  1. 2009 – 2010: Where There is Tea, There is Hope and Goodbye Evil P – Yes, I’ve broken the rules already, but considering the first year of this blog has the most posts, I thought it merited two picks instead of one. My earliest posts are arguably the most intriguing in light of how my brain inflammation affected the content, but neither of my choices were written during the height of my manic episodes. “Where There is Tea…” is probably my favourite post of all-time. I fell in love with neuroscience in this post, a strong fascination that has stayed with me to this day. It is a reflection on tea, mindfulness, positive psychology, and brain power, but more importantly, it the first time I express a sense of hope and empowerment when it comes to my health.  “Goodbye Evil P” marked the beginning of the end of taking Prednisone, something my long-time readers will know as a huge turning point in my physical and emotional recovery.
  2. 2010 – 2011: Face-Off: A New Name for a New Game – As my brain and body healed, the clarity of mind spurred a huge transition in the look and direction of the blog from an inward, hyper-personal focus, to one of reflection, but with more of an outward focus. I had finally escaped the confines of my mind and was determined to re-enter the world and my life. The dark and brooding theme of “Lupus Face: One in a Sea of a Thousand” was stripped away and the lighter, horizon-focused Face Forward was born.
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    Original blog header graphic for “Lupus Face: One in a Sea of a Thousand” (as of Sept. 2009)

    Blog header graphic for "Face Forward: Finding Life in Lupus"

    New blog header graphic for “Face Forward: Finding Life in Lupus” (as of July 2010)

  3. 2011 – 2012: E’s Wellness Emergency Kit – The third year, I was immersed in re-engaging with movement through running and my Dance Diaries: Awkward Adventures in an UnCooperative Body series, teaching myself to heal my body with food through my Cooking for the Wolf posts, and starting to share my “Lupus taming” tips and tricks. This post lists the small comforts that have helped me through the Lupie cycles of fatigue and pain.
  4. 2012 – 2013: The Chance Encounter – During the fourth year, I was focused on setting health goals and the role that stepping outside of your comfort zone and creating new experiences for yourself (ie. varying degrees of epic adventure) can have on overall wellness. In this post, a stranger in a hot spring teaches me lessons in resilience and reveals the surprising conclusions one can only discover when traveling alone.
  5. 2013 – 2014: Redefining the Mission to Remission – The fifth year, I was very reflective and conscious of how the last few years have changed the trajectory of my life and the way I perceive my disease and my future. This post examines the evolution of my “mission to remission” and the merits of quiet victory.

I hope you enjoy visiting my favourite ghosts of Face Forward past. Comment below to share your favourite post with me, as well as your suggestions on what you would like to see in Year 6. I have some big plans in the works, including an exciting monthly feature by a guest blogger who will provide the unique insights of a medical professional with a personal connection to Lupus. I plan on strengthening my commitment to providing relevant, useful info combined with descriptive storytelling, improve the ease of navigation on the site, and begin to bring in other perspectives and tips on wellness that may not be Lupus specific, but still apply to our goal of sustained health. I also want Year 6 to bring the caregiver’s voice to the forefront, because really, where would any of us be without them? And lastly, be sure to check out my new “Blog Philosophy” page on the top bar menu or click on the image below to read about what I hope to accomplish in the Face Forward future. blogphilosphylink.jpg-2 So, happy belated fifth birthday, dear blog! You’ve remained one of my only constants in a time of great change and uncertainty. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship, you and I, but I think we’re at a point where we can say that we’re in it for the long haul. Year 6, here we come!

Taking a Moment for Meso

The creation of Face Forward revealed a community of lupus patients and caregivers from across the globe, who continue to be a major source of inspiration and support. My hope has always been that this blog would be a meeting place for health warriors of all kinds, since all illness/pain sufferers can, on some level, relate to the day-to-day struggles of maintaining one’s quality of life. One such warrior is Heather Von St. James, a rare mesothelioma cancer survivor who beat the odds eight years ago when she was given only fifteen months to live. Mesothelioma is a cancer caused only by asbestos exposure and is completely preventable. Heather and her husband, Cameron, launched the “Take a Moment for Meso” campaign to spread awareness and approached bloggers like myself to join in the effort. Face Forward is happy to spread the word and to share the wonderful news that Heather continues to thrive after a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung. Since today, September 26th, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day, there’s no better way to celebrate than to share some potentially life-saving facts in honour of our cancer defeating superhero, Heather: SUBTITLE Head on over to the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website for more information. If you know anyone you believe to be at risk, please “take a moment for Meso” and spread the word! And keep an eye out for a “best of” list of my favourite posts from the last five years of Face Forward. It will be a belated blog birthday celebration in a month of lupie milestones, so get ready to fill the comment section with your favourite post choice and what you want me to write about in the Face Forward future!

Five Years Later: A Love Note to my Brain

Weeks ago, I marked the fifth year since I felt that strange push back, the crackled snap of separation from who I thought I was and that person who was doing things I never said she could. I took quiet note of this anniversary, the day lupus-induced inflammation took over my brain. I was going to acknowledge it here the way we all do when we find ourselves traveling the cycle of time, pausing to remember the pebble stones we lay down along the way. How far have I come? What have I learned? What will I do now? But I didn’t answer those questions, I didn’t want to. That day, it was enough to say, “yes, that happened.”

Today, an entire month later, I found myself belatedly marking the occasion with a love note to none other than my fascinating, enduring brain:

Dear Brain,

I still don’t fully understand what happened to you and I’ve come to accept that I never will. I don’t know how you managed to keep me, the real me, conscious amidst the chaos and for the times I was not, I want to thank you for protecting me and making me forget the worst of what “she” did. Thank you for being resilient, for allowing me to not only return to myself, but to uncover the parts I’d long forgotten. I’m sorry for leaving you vulnerable through my denial and meager self-care. I promise I will never do that again.

You are amazing and I’ve been grateful, so very grateful, every one of the last 1,825 days.

Love, Elena

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(Image Source)