Finding Support and Strength in Shared Experiences
Last updated: May 2023
It may appear to be a cliché to some when we say “you are not alone” in the context of dealing with difficult health or other challenges. We are few who truly are alone in any endeavor or circumstance, and that is true to the extent that we see it as true.
The power of shared experience and community
Your experience is not identical to mine or anybody else’s. Even if we share in many of the same ways, it still does not mean we are not enough the same that we can have great empathy and a greater understanding of similar or identical difficulties or, conversely, victories.
There is strength in numbers, as we have heard. Knowing that we collectively have shared experience is empowering, at least for most of us, and that includes several people in the community of people who have lived or lived experience with hep C.
Is it a special community? Perhaps not so unique, as there are several communities with a wellness and health focus, like cancer, HIV, HBV, and a long list of others.
This is not to say we are all the same with the same issues to deal with, but many are the same or very much the same, and that includes stigma, access to medical care, and a myriad of other things that many communities of persons with lived and living experience face in their efforts toward improved health, wellness, respect, and dignity.
There is no question that organizing as a community has value in all the ways that most members can benefit from. In shaping policy, advocating for research, and participating as a community member in ways that support the shared objectives as identified by the community of those affected.
None of this is new or particularly unique, and there remains much to learn and do.
Harnessing the strength of community support
There are some very good examples of effective community action in history, and some amazing actions such as we have seen with the HIV community, Breast Cancer, to mention a few.
Sharing experiences and ideas has amazing value, as mentioned, and personally, I have benefitted greatly in positive ways, spending time with my fellow hep C folks of all ages and from all the different populations affected. This includes our allies in medicine, research, and policy development and benefits those directly affected.
For me, it began with the news that I was living with hep C and continues today 14 years on. Without the support and kindness, knowledge, and help, I would be in a bad place, I am sure.
This is not only my story, as we know, and knowing that I am not alone is helpful in ways beyond measure, as it is with our fellow community members, active or not.
If you choose to engage in the community, you will not be alone, and if you don’t know, you may still benefit in real ways from the time and effort that others have spent on our behalf.
Join the conversation