About

Photo of Shelley PageMy name is Shelley Page and I’m a recovering journalist. My chronic illness, however, will always be a work in progress.

My relationship between work and illness has been complicated.

Just four days before I was set to start my first job as a cub reporter at the Vancouver Province newspaper, I was diagnosed with lupus, a serious autoimmune disease. I had inflammation of the heart and the lining around my lungs.

Somehow I made it through that horrible summer and went on to score a coveted job at the Toronto Star and then the Ottawa Citizen, where I was science reporter, city and lifestyles columnist, feature writer and writing coach. During this time, I’ve been clobbered with multiple flares, the most serious involving my kidneys and brain. I’ve also been bombarded with numerous immune-suppressing chemical cocktails.

My passion to be a journalist carried me far, but there are many stages one goes through when diagnosed with a serious illness just as they’re about to take the first steps in a new and sought-after career.

They include Fear, Denial, Double Denial, Guru Seeking and Meditation, Bargaining, sometimes Sick Leave and eventually Wisdom.

After 27 years, I left journalism for a more flexible workplace in order to get the accommodations my doctor said I needed following a period of disability.

Almost every day of my work-life, my success-focused nature has competed with my health.  It took me far too long to connect my driven mentality, overactive lifestyle and my declining health. I was unable to choose between career and health.

I now make better decisions for myself. And my health is significantly better.

While it’s only in the past few years that I been much more preemptive in my efforts, I believe others can succeed where I deluded myself. Your long-term health depends on it. I counsel other newly diagnosed patients in better, more enlightened choices. Learn from my mistakes, I say! I also write about health and wellness in mainstream media. And I hope through this blog, you’ll appreciate why certain choices exacerbate your illness and how future choices can promote wellbeing.

My path to better health has been meandering and sometimes, blocked by a big pile of rocks. On the way, I have learned to conserve energy, alter my work conditions, build alliances, take naps and sometimes work from home. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you’ve got to quit your job if the conditions aren’t right. Success doesn’t matter as much as I once thought it did. However, sometimes, I’ve forgotten all of the good advice above in pursuit of a big story. And I ended up getting really sick. For a scoop.

This blog is about working with chronic illness, the good, the bad and with fat cheeks from prednisone. It’s about working with the sick days.

This blog was started as a requirement for the Digital Strategy course I took at the University of Toronto in the spring/summer, 2015.

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7 thoughts on “About

  1. Carrie Buchanan

    Shelley, this blog is brilliant. It is helping me to understand not only lupus, but also my own chronic back problem and attempts to either deny or cope, in alternating cycles, over the years. I’ll be hanging on your every word. Regards, Carrie

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  2. Wendy Kool

    Shelley, Your blog will add another helpful resource for the Lupus Support Group. Will be sending the link on through our broadcast system. Wendy

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  3. pattiehultquist

    Hi, Shelley!! Just popping in as we have a common connection (Keiran Green) and he passed along your blog to me. I also notice Wendy’s posted here, too!! (ain’t she lovely?!?!) I’m over at Lupus Interrupted .com and I’m so grateful to “meet” another local woman who blogs about Lupus. HUGS

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    1. Shelley Page Post author

      Hey Pattie, Kieran just mentioned your blog to me. I will be sure to follow…and yes, I’ve only recently met Wendy and I’m helping with the support groups. I used to do that years ago, but life go in the way. Will check out your blog, too!

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  4. Deborah Richmond

    Terrific blog, Shelley. I was alerted to it by Carrie Buchanan. Way back in the day when I was an Assistant City Editor at The Citizen, I was aware that you had Lupus and amazed that you were able to produce such excellent work. I feel rather guilty that I didn’t pay more attention at that time and encourage you to take sick leave if you needed it. Do you feel you had sufficient support and accommodation from management?

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    1. Shelley Page Post author

      Thanks for following Deb. Please share it around. The Citizen knew right from the beginning about my health — Randy was great and so was Lynn McAuley….but thinks went horrible bad in the past 2.5 years of working there, like seriously unbelievable…but I will get to that!!!

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