Why I Write for Health Union (And Encourage Others To)

I admit I was skeptical when Sara Hayes first reached out to me nearly two years ago via LinkedIn. However, coincidentally, my nonprofit organization had been in discussions to developing a somewhat similar project. We recognized there was a need but, frankly, did not relish the thought of undertaking something of that magnitude.

From skepticism to interest

“We are working to build our Lung Cancer platform,” explained Sara, “which involves the development of hundreds of pages of original clinical articles on lung cancer, like risk factors and symptoms, testing, diagnosis, treatment options, and an overview of the latest research. Then, when the site launches, we supplement this core content with fresh, original content updated frequently -- in some cases once a day or more -- by a team of contributors who are usually patients or caregivers themselves, advocates, physicians, or other experts in the field. Your experience is exactly what we need to make this platform relevant and useful to lung cancer patients and their loved ones. This is something that can be built around your schedule, as you wish.”

Sara’s message got my attention. Why should our small volunteer nonprofit invest such a large portion of our resources into something like this if someone else with more resources is doing it? Or -- in other words -- why reinvent the wheel? In early 2017, Health Union launched its first cancer website, LungCancer.net.

I have been writing for Health Union ever since. I have also developed meaningful relationships with Sara and others at Health Union. Here are some of the reasons I enjoy writing for this platform.

Writing about my passion

First, I can write about anything. As a former reporter, I used to have to pitch my story ideas to my editor. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not. Oftentimes I was assigned a story that I had less than zero interest in writing.

When writing for Health Union, however, I can write about my passion. I can write about my heartbreak when losing a dear soul to lung cancer. I can write about radon (or make a video) to raise awareness about the number two cause of lung cancer. I can write about screening which holds much potential for saving our loved ones’ lives. I can write about advocacy events and scientific conferences. I can even write about writing. I keep a list of story ideas in my phone. Right now I have about 30 story ideas on my list, counting this one.

I can write a lot...or not

One of the best things about writing for Health Union is that I can write or not. No one is breathing down my neck demanding that I turn in articles. Again, going back to my days as a journalist, at one newspaper where I worked, we had a quota of submitting two articles a day. My life these days is quite full of advocacy activities and responsibilities of overseeing programs for my nonprofit. We do not have any full-time staff members, other than me serving as a full-time volunteer. So, I must be very involved with everything our organization is doing.

As every advocate can attest to, there are crunch times when we are so slammed with an event or project deadline that there is no way I can even do my dirty laundry, much less write articles for Health Union. Sometimes I am simply too busy, too tired, too burned out or simply too lazy to write. That’s OK. The folks at Health Union never pester me for articles. I write when I can and/or want to do so.

Read the continuation of "Why I Write for Health Union (And Encourage Others To)" in Part II here.

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