From Patient to Advocate: How My Personal Brand Helped Launch My Career
A Guest Post by Lilly Stairs
Five years ago, my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that resulted in total body arthritis and paralyzing pain that made even the slightest movement excruciating. Five months after my Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosis, bleeding ulcers were found in my small intestine and I was diagnosed with yet another autoimmune disorder – Crohn’s Disease.
At the ripe age of nineteen I had received back-to-back diagnoses of serious, life-long chronic illnesses. I endured countless failed treatments, debilitating fatigue, strained relationships, and more pain than I could have ever imagined. But I am blessed to have just celebrated three years of remission because of a life-saving therapy. I now live a relatively “normal” life and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Shortly after I was diagnosed, I launched a blog entitled Autoimmune Barbie where I chronicled my trials and triumphs throughout my patient journey. I was overjoyed to find that my experiences resonated with fellow patients and eventually had over 10,000 views on my blog.
Not only did my Autoimmune Barbie blog and social media accounts provide an outlet to support other patients, they helped me launch a professional career in patient advocacy. My presence as an online influencer was well received by healthcare and biotech companies where my passion and experience as a patient are highly valued.
Since I launched my career, I have had the opportunity to work at a series of leading healthcare and biotech organizations including my current role as Head of Patient Advocacy at Clara, a startup working to transform the clinical trial experience.
As I have grown both personally and professionally, I retired Autoimmune Barbie and established myself not only as a patient advocate, but a young professional who wants to make a difference in the world and help others do the same. Alongside helping launch a career I love, my personal brand continually aids me in building credibility as a thought leader in the patient advocacy and social impact spheres. Above all else, it provides an outlet for me to support and inspire fellow patients and change-makers.
While my autoimmune diseases caused me to endure the most difficult trials of my life, I am thankful for them because they gave me a purpose. It has become my life’s mission to support patients as they march through their journey and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to achieve this mission via my personal and professional life.
Join Lilly at GLOW’s Spitfire on Thursday, March 2nd to learn how you too can pursue your passion and build your personal brand from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Hostelling International!