Meet Rachel Hoy
Starting off 2021 with an upgrade to our Spotlight Story Program because it will now be MONTHLY human stories told BY young people FOR young people in the chronic illness/disability/mental health community!
There is no better person to start the Spotlight Story Program for the new year than lyme disease activist and owner of the popular brand Tee Spoonies, Rachel Hoy. Being part of our Global Brand Leaders Program for two years, now as a #GBLAllStar, Australian Rachel has been such a firm believer for empowering young people with chronic illnesses to advocate for themselves. This coming from her experience living with Lyme disease and co-infections, along with POTS, MCAS, interstitial cystitis and autoimmune conditions. She understands that balancing life, work and chronic illness takes time–especially living with Lyme disease in Australia as comprehension and treatment access is harder to come by–and learning how you empower yourself to enjoy and succeed in life with any health struggles was something Rachel was super passionate for, and it resulted in her creating her own brand Tee Spoonies. Selling ethically made products like pocket tees, scrunchies, cards and more, Rachel has built a community behind Tee Spoonies that mirrors her style of activism perfectly!
My name is Rach – I’m a 28 year old Australian living with Lyme disease & co infections as well as POTS, MCAS, interstitial cystitis and autoimmune conditions.
I was infected with Lyme & co infections on a trip to the USA after finishing my Master’s degree six years ago.
The first two years after getting sick I spent most of my time searching for a diagnosis, only to find out when it did come, that the hardest part was ahead of me.
At 22 years, I had travelled the world, completed two degrees and worked as youth state manager and campaign designer for World Vision Australia, so having to step back to focus on my health was a steep learning curve.
Living with chronic Lyme disease in Australia is especially hard – it is recognised and understood even less here than overseas, which means limited access to doctors and treatments.
After six years of living with Lyme & co my illness has really progressed.
My main symptoms are severe joint pain, fatigue leaving me mainly housebound, headaches/migraines, gut, bladder and mast cell problems, and neurological issues including up to twenty seizures per day.
I learnt rather quickly how tough it could be living with chronic illness as a young person, including doctors who denied the severity of my illness and friends who left my side in the hard times.
I also realised the apparent need for us to be continually advocating for ourselves as chronically ill youth.
One day I had a light bulb moment and realised I could combine a number of my passions together: advocacy, ethical consumerism and design, in order to raise awareness about living with invisible illness.
My first design idea with Tee Spoonies was the invisible illness pocket tee, which has grown to be the most popular!
Having the tee resonate with so many invisible illness warriors has meant a lot.
I sew all of the pockets myself which adds a personal touch.
The chronic illness community is important to so many, and being a part of it in this way, and being able to create products that empower fellow spoonies has been a blessing.
Working with InvisiYouth the past two years has been a great experience. I’m proud to donate 100% of profits from our fundraiser upcycled scrunchie packs & 50% of profits from our recycled paper gift card packs to InvisiYouth.
Our brand is all about making unique, sustainable, ethically made products that are a labour of love.
We also donate 10% of all profits to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia. You can check out more on our website here: teespoonies.com
If I could give some pieces of advice to young people struggling with the throws of chronic & invisible illnesses it would be to remember your inherent value in this world over anything you could possibly accomplish.
Goals are great but values are key.
Often living with chronic illness can mean pushing back or rearranging timelines or goals, which can be disheartening, but who you are in life is a lot more important than where you are in life.
And if you’re reading this now I already know who you are is amazing, because the perseverance, resilience and strength living with serious illness requires does not come easily.
Secondly, you are not alone.
No matter how lonely, devastated or isolated you feel – there is a community out there who understand what you’re going through, and want to support, empower and help you in any way they can.
And lastly, YOU know YOU better than anyone!
Trust in yourself and advocate for your needs… with a little help from your friends 🙂
*to learn more about Rachel’s involvement in our GBL Program, click here. And to learn more about Rachel’s products with Tee Spoonies, click here.*