Three weeks into my new job, I was at the 73rd ADA Scientific Sessions surrounded by more than 14,000 people and discovered myself at the intersection of different roles in my diabetes life. My first day as Development and Marketing Manager for DiabetesSisters was June 3. After more than two years as a member and volunteer, I made the transition to full-time staff member. But it was also the start of a transition in how I viewed myself.
Friday, June 28, marked seven and a half years since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. And for much of the time, I just saw myself as a person with diabetes. It was an unexpected change and the realization set in that no matter how well I managed things, Type 1 diabetes would be with me until someone found a cure. That could have been defeating. Yes, dealing with the highs and lows of diabetes (literally) can be challenging but I tried to view it was a new way to describe myself - just like daughter, friend, swing dancer or at the time journalist. I read everything about the latest research and treatments and was fortunate - and still am - to have a great care team with my endocrinologist, diabetes educator, and a network of friends and family in my journey.
When I moved to Raleigh a couple years ago, I realized it was time to do something about the missing piece in my life with diabetes: Being connected to other people who have Type 1. Through Google, I found the Triangle Insulin Pump Support Group and found DiabetesSisters listed as a resource on their website. I knew there were other people living with Type 1 diabetes, but for the first time I truly saw myself as part of that larger community of people with diabetes. Their support has made such a difference. Hearing their successes and struggles, what they've learned has given me a support network and friendships that run deeper than diabetes.
One morning waiting with the crowd outside the massive ADA exhibit hall, I realized just how much my new position with DiabetesSisters had immersed me into this larger diabetes world. And it was powerful. Powerful to see so many people from across the globe all committed to the same cause - fighting diabetes, discovering a cure and trying to make lives better. From researchers and medical professionals working on new treatments, to pharmaceutical and medical device companies pushing technology forward, and groups similar to DiabetesSisters advocating for the million people worldwide living with diabetes.
Brandy and I were there representing the 10,000 women who are DiabetesSisters members and the 123 million women worldwide living with the disease. It was a busy conference schedule running between all-day meetings exploring partnerships, funding opportunities, and ways to push forward research on women and diabetes. It left me ready for some rest by the end - enjoyed a little nap on the plane ride home - but also humbled and excited for all the work we've yet to do. But I'm ready.