This content originally appeared on my former Chicagosphere online-media blog, hosted on the Chicago Tribune‘s ChicagoNow network.
Jenni Prokopy is not to be underestimated. Founder and “editirix” of ChronicBabe.com, a Chicago-based blog about young women experiencing chronic health issues, since June 2005 she has chronicled her personal journey with persistent illness. Along the way, she’s provided messages of hope for young women suffering in a similar way. Her mantra in the midst of it all? Never forget the babe that you are.
Prokopy’s daily battle includes (deep breath, folks) fibromyalgia, asthma, anxiety, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and GERD. Surprisingly, her biggest peeve about facing these challenges is not the challenges, themselves, but the doubt she encounters from people who have a hard time believing a sprightly young woman could be the one facing them.
“Yes, I am young, ” she writes. “Yes, I look fine. And yes, it is sad. But as time passes, I choose more often to focus on the positive: I am creative, and I have choices. And even when I’m cramping and blubbering and whining, I’m still a hottie.”
In four years, Prokopy’s blog has grown into a mini-media empire, employing a staff of 12 and gaining national media attention. The site’s success is due to the wealth of information and motivation offered to its community of readers.
Take, for example, these entries on careers (see working with chronic illness and managing a mean manager), coping (how to embrace optimism and self-care tips), inspiration (try the be here now experiment), relationships and sex (see discussion on healthy boundaries, getting playful, or the mind-blowing sex toys for the allergic), or the “Ask the Babe” reader-response column (see Prokopy’s answers regarding illness disclosure during a job interview and finding a non-judgmental physician.)
ChronicBabe also offers a comprehensive Help Desk with links to health-related online resources including information on chronic conditions, alternative medicine, exercise & fitness, pregnancy, nutrition, and medication assistance.
Beyond her blog, Prokopy is a full-time writer on women’s health issues. She currently serves as a staff health reporter at Gapers Block, writes magazine articles on women’s health issues, and speaks nationally on the topic (you can find her on twitter at @chronicbabe.) The successful motivational blogger shows no sign of slowing down.
“I am not my chronic stuff,” she writes. “I am a young, creative, passionate, generous, driven woman. I’m a Babe. I’m here to share what I know with you, and to create a space for others to share their successes, so that you can be a Babe too.”
With Prokopy leading the way, I wouldn’t doubt it.