Top 10 | Rookie of the Year



Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 1

The 2019 WEGO Health Awards turned out to be our biggest celebration yet! With over 6k nominations and 130k endorsements, we were able to celebrate more Patient Leaders than ever before.

The program celebrates the top 5 finalists in each of the 15 WEGO Health Awards categories, but with so many nominations, it’s nearly impossible to shine a bright light on all these deserving nominees! In hopes of recognizing even more nominees, we’ve compiled the Top 10 Patient Leaders in each category based on community endorsements.

WEGO Health Awards Rookie of the Year Award

Every year, more and more health bloggers are excited by empowerment, raising awareness, and helping others. This particular group of Patient Leaders just started their blog, site, or community work this year and are already making a huge impact. Though they’re new to the scene, they show a ton of promise and are, without a doubt, going to do amazing things in the future.

Help us welcome these Top 10 Rookies of the Year to the online health community:

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 2

Emily Garnett | Breast Cancer Patient Leader

2019 Rookie of the Year Winner

“I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 32, the same week my son turned two and my husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. (Big week for our family). After my diagnosis, I began blogging about my diagnosis, treatment, and thoughts about all of it. I found that there needed to be further conversations about the nuances of life with/around cancer, and started my podcast, The Intersection of Cancer and Life, in 2018. Since my diagnosis, I have been a corporate speaker, program organizer, advocate, and collaborator for a number of research and community groups relating to metastatic breast cancer. While I was busy with all of that, my cancer was also quite busy, and spread from my bones to my lung, liver, and brain. Despite being composed of mostly tumor at this point, I continue to blog, podcast, and talk everyone’s ear off about the need for research, advocacy, and better understanding of metastatic cancer.”

It’s with deep sadness we share Emily passed away in early 2020, read more about her legacy here.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 3

PodcastDX | Rare Disease Patient Leader

2019 Rookie of the Year Finalist

“Many Americans turn to friends and family for support and advice when they have a health problem. Since people’s networks are expanding to include online peers, particularly in the crucible of rare disease, we decided to implement a podcast series to interview and discuss various diagnoses with actual patients. Health professionals remain the central source of information for most Americans, but “peer-to-peer healthcare” is a significant supplement. We are just entering our second year, but the impact we are making shows with our ever growing listener base. Our numbers are fast approaching 10,000, and we are picked up in dozens of countries! We hope to continue this growth as we add a new arm to our company, bringing mental health into clearer focus.”

Add PodcastDX to your feeds to stay on top of their advocacy.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 4

The Living Tree | Fibromyalgia Patient Leader

2019 Rookie of the Year Finalist

“Helping others is something I have always been passionate about so when I started accumulating all this knowledge and tips and tricks, I knew I had to share it with others. Just like that, my YouTube channel The Living Tree was born! I love being able to share everything that I’ve learned so far and sharing my experiences with others who may need that information the most. My goal is to continue to better myself, to keep growing and learning, to continue to share my truths about life with Fibromyalgia through the good days and bad days, and to always be there for my fellow spoonies.”

Brighten up your feeds by following this passionate fresh voice.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 5

Mia Gaudenzi | Cystic Fibrosis Patient Leader

2019 Rookie of the Year Finalist

“My story begins the day I was born although no one knew it yet, I was incredibly ill. At 3 years old I began getting frequent pneumonia’s and doctors couldn’t figure out why I was so unlucky. Mom and I would make regular trips to the ER for answers and receive the same answer over and over “your daughter is fine, she’s just caught a virus, don’t worry too much” so after many google searches and symptom checkers my mom had unofficially diagnosed me with life threatening, terminal Cystic Fibrosis. Later on genetic testing would confirm that diagnosis and my life changed forever!”

Learn more about this young leader and her advocacy.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 6

Fab Fertility with Blair Nelson | Infertility Patient Leader

2019 Rookie of the Year Finalist

“My husband and I began trying to grow our family when we got married two years ago. Being the impatient woman I am, after 6 months of BFNs (big fat negative tests), I had to be proactive. After very basic and preliminary testing we found ourselves with a challenging infertility diagnosis and in a Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office with IVF as our only option to start a family. Marital bliss was slapped in the face with infertility reality. After our first round of IVF we were able to make 4 viable embryos to transfer. Our first attempt and our second ended in miscarriage. The miscarriage was what finally shook me to my core. My heart was broken, I was lonely and confused. I had no where to turn. So I did what anyone in this day and age would do… turned to the internet! I started Fab Fertility to find community and cope. That quickly turned into a passion to help educate and encourage others so they never felt how I did. I’m still in the middle of my journey but I feel a sense of purpose from it all and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to advocate for others trying to make their dreams of a family come true.”

Find education and encouragement by following this inspirational leader.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 7

Rafaela Estrougo | Epilepsy Patient Leader

“Hi! I’m Rafaela, from Brazil living in LA. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 1 year old. Discovered my path is to help and support, but especially spread the word out there. Join the epilepsy community and raise awareness to end stigma. Epilepsy doesn’t define me. And it doesn’t define you either!”

Learn and grow along with Rafaela by adding her to your feeds.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 8

Myisha Malone | Crohn’s Disease Patient Leader

“I am dedicated to helping raise awareness for Crohn’s disease and all chronic illnesses and I run a support group on facebook called @gameofcrohnsandchronicillness. My goal is to raise awareness as much as possible so no one feel as alone as I felt when I was first diagnosed. I love being an advocate for others.”

Love to be educated and inspired? Click here to follow Myisha.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 9

Ellen Bookman | Parkinson’s Disease Patient Leader

“It took a Parkinson’s diagnosis to realize I have a gift. The other day, John, one of my boxer friends, said to me ‘thanks for being my friend and making my situation easier.’ To anyone who will listen, here’s my message — Get up. Get up now, and don’t wait for a diagnosis to change your life. And, if you happen to get a life changing diagnosis, my advice is to LIVE. JUST LIVE!!!!”

Check out Ellen and her positive advocacy.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 10

Jamie Teachey-Pyle | Chronic Illness and Mental Health Patient Leader

“Before I became disabled I was a teacher. I will teach forever. I will teach people to advocate. I will teach people to KNOW THEIR patient rights. I will be an unpaid patient advocate. It took 30 years for me to get a diagnosis. I will teach people to advocate so this does not happen to them.”

Stay updated on Jamie’s incredible advocacy by following her.

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 11

Fabulous and Fatigued – Sara Naveed | Fibromyalgia Patient Leader

“It’s difficult having an invisible illness – being in a place where nobody can ever tell how it impacts you on a daily basis, yet it affects every single decision you make in your life. I’ve come to realize that I consider it to be a blessing, and a curse at the same time.”

Click here to learn more about Sara and to add her to your feeds.

These rookies are ready for the big leagues. Don’t forget to follow them!

Top 10 | Rookie of the Year 12

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