When chronic health advocate Nitika Chopra first organized and hosted Chronicon, a summit specifically for helping people with chronic illnesses foster meaningful connections, it was just the beginning of something profoundly needed in the wellness world.
Tickets for the 2019 event completely sold out and hundreds of people from all over the country attended the all-day event in New York City, which included speakers Phillip Picardi (a columnist at GQ and a former editor at Teen Vogue), style icon Stacy London, and tattoo artist Mira Mariah. “There are two major reasons for the conference,” Chopra told me before the event. “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.”
Now, a year later, the need for connection is even greater during the strains and challenges of the pandemic. And nothing can stop Chopra from bringing folks together, not even COVID-19. On October 28, she is taking Chronicon to a whole new level, launching The Chronicon Community. Members will be able to connect digitally with each other and join in on monthly virtual Chronicon events with amazing, inspiring speakers.
Here, Chopra shares more about what The Chronicon Community platform will offer and why she’s so excited about it.
Well+Good: Chronicon is evolving from a yearly event to a whole new virtual community. What will it offer to people with a chronic illness?
Nitika Chopra: I’m so excited about it. The silver lining of the pandemic is that it’s allowed me to lay the foundational pieces for this company, which is growing in a way that it can reach people every day—not just one day a year. Basically, you’ll be able to have your little Chronicon Community in your pocket. There is going to be content specifically for people with chronic illnesses, featuring different experts on the site. Members will also be able to message each other and talk. I don’t want this to be about me at all; I want people to find others they connect with and talk to each other.
There will be monthly virtual Chronicon events too, which will have the same caliber of speakers that we had last year at the summit. And in between the monthly events there will be smaller events, like virtual cooking classes.
You mention that someone has to be a member to join. How much will it cost?
NC: We’re going to start the membership cost off at $15 a month. In January, it will jump to $20 a month, but anyone who joins before then will be grandfathered in and able to keep the $15 a month option. We will always also offer scholarships to those who want to join, but are financially unable to due to medical bills and other expenses. For members, the monthly Chronicon events will be free, but those who are not members can join for $25 per event. The reason it’s a paid model is that we wanted it to be an exclusive community, but still at a price point that’s accessible.
What can you share about the first monthly event?
NC: It’s November 19th, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, and the theme is mental health. There has been so much trauma, confusion, and devastating life changes this year, but this event will provide a way to close the year feeling centered.
There are some amazing speakers lined up for it, too. The event will start with Regina Rocke of Wolf Medicine Magic leading us through a breathwork exercise. Then, there will be a panel discussion with Sahaj Kohli of Brown Girl Therapy, Alison Marras of Food By Mars, plus one more expert that is still being finalized. The event will close with a special musical performance from Meah Pace of The Resistance Revival Chorus singing “I Hope.” It’s a night you won’t want to miss!
So, so awesome. Thank you for creating this space, especially during a time that can feel so isolating.
NC: I’m really excited to see how people will come together and form connections through the community. Because here’s the thing about living with a chronic illness: that’s not all that you are. Even though my [psoriatic arthritis] left me immobile for six years and was obviously really challenging, that was never all that I was. I’m also a New Yorker. I’m a woman of color. I like to sing. I’m an entrepreneur.
There are millions of people living with a chronic illness and I want to show that you can have a chronic illness and still thrive. You can have a glorious, big, incredible life. The Chronicon Community is a place where people can connect and discuss everything going on in their lives, including the good. It’s not about focusing on sadness or the devastation. It’s a place to talk about it all.
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