An Inspiring New Event Tells People With Chronic Illness: “You Are Not Alone, You Are Loved”

Photo: Laurel Creative
Nitika Chopra knows first hand the feelings of isolation that accompany chronic illness. Having been diagnosed with severe plaque psoriasis and arthritis, the certified life coach knows too well what's it's like to miss out on social events due of fatigue. She knows the disappointment that follows the failure of a promising new treatment. She knows the frustration of asking the waiter a dozen questions about how the food is prepared. But she also knows that an estimated 157 million Americans are personally affected by chronic diseases, and that there is no reason to feel alone.

With the launch of Chronicon, a summit to be held October 28 in New York City, Chopra seeks to help people with chronic illnesses foster meaningful connection. "There are two major reasons for the conference," she says. "I want to break the cycle of isolation and bring people together. And I want to celebrate the fact that we are so much more than our conditions. The conversations in the media around chronic illness are all really sad. The women I know with chronic illnesses also have PhDs, or are mothers, or entrepreneurs."

Additionally, the wellness industry has earned a reputation for being inaccessible to certain groups of people—people who don't fit into a white, able-bodied, affluent mold. With Chronicon, Chopra seeks to join the ranks of women who are creating more inclusive events, like Gianne Doherty (founder of WELL Summit), Sarah Herron (of SheLift), and Chastity Garner and Cece Olisa (of CurvyCon). "I decided to create [Chronicon] because I felt there were all these marginalized communities that are really taking a stand and owning their voice," says Chopra. "They're asking for people to give them a place in the world and I felt like no one was doing that for chronic illness."

A long list of speakers and panelists slated for Chronicon includes style icon Stacy London, tattoo artist and disability advocate Mira Mariah, and endometriosis advocate Aimee Raupp, among others.

"I want to break the cycle of isolation and bring people together. And I want to celebrate the fact that we are so much more than our conditions." —Nitika Chopra

As the conference intends to cater to people with various needs, Chopra is mindful to implement certain accommodations. "Everything will be wheelchair accessible. We'll have private rooms for nursing mothers and private spaces for those who need to take insulin or other medications," says Chopra. "The lunch we'll serve is important because I want it to be as nourishing as possible. We'll also have a restaurant guide to the Union Square neighborhood for people with special dietary needs."

Tickets are priced at $150, lower than the cost to attend some other wellness conferences, which can exceed $400 for a single day. "I also want people to know that if they are experiencing financial hardship because of their illness but want to attend the conference to please message me and I will give them a seat," she says.

Chopra hopes the 2019 Chronicon will be the first of many events, but she launches the initiative while taking into consideration her own health. "I have two chronic illnesses and don't want to get burnt out," she says. "We'll start with this one amazing day!"

Here's what dating is like for someone with a chronic illness. Plus, what to do when you self-care doesn't work.

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