sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

New Partnerships/Your Feedback Requested

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 15, 2011

Hi Ladies! This past week was an exciting one! I am excited to let you know that DiabetesSisters has entered into a new partnership with Sanofi-Aventis to bring a new, innovative aspect to the SisterMatch program to you in 2011. Amazingly, the project was initiated and is completely controlled by DiabetesSisters, but sponsored by Sanofi-Aventis. This means that I will be calling on you (probably sending out surveys too) to gauge your interest on certain things and ask your opinion on certain aspects of the program. As the first program of its kind, we will be paving new roads in the diabetes and web worlds! Furthermore, the lessons learned will be of great value to many different industries and organizations. It is an exciting time to be a part of DIabetesSisters and see how God is moving His hand in the lives of DS members!

I am also working on another really exciting project that will also “put DiabetesSisters on the map.” Although I can’t disclose the details yet, I would like to get your feedback as a woman who is living with diabetes….

As a woman with diabetes, what resource (book, pamphlet, program, item, etc.) is/was/has been the most beneficial to you? In other words, what is the one thing that you think all women with diabetes should receive? Think back over your years of living with the disease: When did you say to yourself, “Boy, I wish someone would have told me about this sooner!” Maybe it was a lecture that opened your eyes to the connection between diabetes and heart disease in women or maybe it was the sports holster that holds your pump while you exercise or maybe it was the health educator who told you how to prepare for pregnancy….it could be anything. For me, I know one really important thing for me has been the Calorie King restaurant books that lay out the carbs and calories in the foods at many of the places where we eat out. That book has opened my eyes and educated me about the carbohydrates in many different kinds of foods and made me a better estimator of insulin boluses. What was/is it for you? You can post your idea below or you can email me directly at director@diabetessisters.org with “ALL WOMEN WITH DIABETES SHOULD RECEIVE...” in the subject line.

The BIG 3-5-0

sisterSTAFF Blog

February 8 ,2011

Well, it happened this week…one of those dreaded numbers on the meter with for no “good reason.”  (I guess a “good reason” would be that I ate something absolutely delectable and miscalculated the carbs.  When there is nothing at all positive – like the joy of tasting a scrumptious dessert or maybe a loaded baked potato-- that resulted in the number being high, it just really stinks.)  Not that I haven’t had thousands of these (high) numbers.  This one was just more memorable because it ruined my whole day!  On the morning in question, I awoke feeling nauseous and I thought that I must be getting a virus.  But, after checking my meter and seeing the big 3-5-0, I knew it was the culprit.  The only thing I could determine was that when I changed my infusion site the previous night, something went wrong.  So, I immediately changed it again.  What torture waiting for my blood sugar to come down!  And for whatever reason, that 350 in the morning is SOOOOOO much worse than a 350 at 2:30pm in the afternoon.  Not only does it start my day off wrong, but I just feel way more nauseous in the morning than in the afternoon.  It took me until lunch time to get my numbers back down to the 120 range.  It always seems to go up so quickly…then come down soooooo slooooowly.  I guess that’s just a day in the life of a woman with diabetes.

Also- a really awesome thing happened this week when I went to a new small group (from church).  The leader of the group had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about a year ago.  Our discussion led to a very in-depth Q & A session with the entire group of women about diabetes myths and truths.  I kept noticing that every time the leader talked about her diabetes or explained anything about it, she talked about it with so much guilt.  When we were asked about the difference in our types of diabetes, I discussed how my pancreas doesn’t make any more insulin and she talked about how people with type 2 diabetes often overweight and how she had been working on losing weight.  I immediately noticed a lot of blame and guilt in what she said.  I told her that, yes, it would be great if she lost weight, but even if she does, there is no guarantee that her diabetes would go away.  There are other factors, like genes, that play a role as well.  At first, she first deflected my comments.  Then, when I further explained how I felt that society had placed a lot of blame on people with type 2 diabetes and it sounded like she had personally taken on some of that blame, she broke down in tears and said something like, “No one has ever said that to me before.”  Wow!  What a great snippet to show the value of peer support.  Before people with diabetes want to take care of themselves—they have to feel good about themselves.  That’s where peer support comes in—helping people feel good about themselves, so that they want to get their diabetes under control. 

Happy 3rd Birthday, DiabetesSisters!

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 31, 2011

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that it was just three years ago that I embarked on this journey with DiabetesSisters!  It has been a roller coaster ride, for sure!  There have been many ups and quite a few downs—as would be expected with any start-up nonprofit!  But, what has remained the same through it all is the wonderfully inspirational women who are a part of DiabetesSisters and our mission to improve the health and quality of life of women with diabetes; and to advocate on their behalf.  Yes, we have grown in numbers and expanded our programs and services into new areas.  But, we have always asked, “Does this contribute to our overall mission for the organization?”  If not, we simply don’t do it!  As someone who was fairly new to nonprofit management, I have learned many lessons the hard way over the last three years—trial and error!  The key word here is “learned.”  To me, as long as I am learning, time is not wasted.  It may not be pleasant, but it will not be wasted.  I believe that every lesson serves a purpose for me later down the road.

My five-year-old daughter, Summer, asked me if we were going to get a birthday cake for DiabetesSisters (because, as you know, in the mind of a five-year-old it’s not a birthday unless there is cake!) and my response was, “I haven’t really thought about that.”  But, she got me thinking…  In one sense, I have nurtured this organization as if it was a baby and though it is only three years old, it has enriched my life beyond measure (like a child does!).  Like a child, it has been difficult to manage at times, but the good times make it all worthwhile in the end!  I guess the organization really does deserve a party….not for what it has done for me, but for what it has done for all of us women with diabetes over the last three years.  Just four years ago, there was no nonprofit organization that was supporting, educating, and advocating for women with diabetes. 

It has been brought to my attention that I need to take time to enjoy accomplishments rather than rushing off to accomplish the next goal.  So, I think I will do just that!  At our next Quarterly Gathering in Raleigh (on Feb 19th), I will make DiabetesSisters’ birthday the theme of the meeting!  After all, who better to celebrate its birthday than those who both benefit from and serve others through the organization on an ongoing basis.  They are the organization’s “best friends” after all!  If you can join us for the “birthday party” on Saturday, Feb 19th in Raleigh, please do!  My vision is that one day we will all be able to celebrate January 31st as DiabetesSisters' birthday from various locations throughout the US (at PODS Meetups, Quarterly Gatherings, etc.)  As someone told me at my small group today-- It's all about vision and mission.  You first have vision, then you embark on a mission to make it happen!  Boy, I have been on more missions than I care to count over the past three years-- but they were all worthwhile because they served the purpose of improving the health and quality of life of women with diabetes!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DIABETESSISTERS!   

 

Ways to Make 2011 a Great Year

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 25, 2011

Is Spring here yet??  I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering, wishing that Spring was here!  This past Friday was a very special day for me—it was my 21 year anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis!  Yes, that’s 21 years lived WELL with diabetes!  I know some people take this date very seriously and have special rituals they do to commemorate this day.  But, for me, the day’s significance usually only gets a fleeting thought in my hectic life.  That is, it gets a brief moment of appreciation that I have made it another great year with diabetes!  Do you have any special ways to commemorate your anniversary?  I’m curious.  Maybe I really should be giving this day more recognition!  After all- it’s also the anniversary of the founding of DiabetesSisters (Jan 21, 2008!) 

Also, this past week, I came across an article by Dr. Oz that I wanted to share with you because it is very fitting for us as women with diabetes.  Dr. Oz’s 9 Numbers That Count are specific goals to work toward that will have a huge impact on your health.

1) Blood Pressure: 115/75

2) Resting Heart Rate: 83

3) Cholesterol: LDL- less than 100; HDL greater than 50

4) Omega 6s to Omega 3s ratio of 4 to 1

5) C-reactive protein level of 1

6) Vitamin D level of 30

7) Waist size of less than half of your height

8) Blood sugar of 125

9) Bone density of -1

10) Weekend for Women Conference- attend at least 1 in 2011 (just kidding, Dr. Oz didn’t make an official recommendation...but, if you haven’t registered yet, please do soon before all of the spots are filled (Click here to Register).  I guarantee it will improve your health and wellbeing in 2011!   

For more detail about these goals, specific ranges, and what you can do to work toward them, click here.

 

Extraordinary Realizations

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 19, 2011

Hello Sisters!  How is 2011 so far??  I must say that it has been pretty good for me so far—except for all of the cold, winter weather in North Carolina.  I ventured to my hometown of Hickory, NC to spend time with my family for my mom’s birthday last weekend and they still had lots of snow on the ground- YUCK!  I like to see it once and marvel over its beauty, but after that, I’m ready for Spring.  I don’t know if there is anyone else out there like me, but I literally count down the months and days until Spring when the first day of Autumn begins.  My daughter, Summer, is the same way.  Last week, she asked me, “Mommy, how many more days until Spring?”  She was quite disappointed by my answer.

I guess the cold weather is a necessary evil because it gives me time to slow down, stay inside, reflect, make new plans and set new goals for the new year.  For the last three years, I have created a vision board at the end of one year/beginning of the next year.  It’s a lot of fun to be creative and it puts my goals and thoughts into simple words, phrases, and pictures.  The idea is to select photos, words and phrases from magazines that stand out to you.  Some of them have a significant meaning to you at the time you choose the and some just stand out for an unknown reason.  In fact, it is really insightful to look back at my vision board from 2009 and see where I was in so many different areas of my life.  But, one of the most beneficial aspects is having the board in my office every day where I can look at it and embed the goals in my mind at the beginning of every day or when things get tough. 

The other beneficial aspect is looking at the board at the end of the year and being astonished at how so many of the concepts on the board came to life in ways that I had not really imagined when I glued them on the board.  For example, on my 2009 vision board (created at the end of 2008- DiabetesSisters’ first year of existence), I glued a photo of stylists doing the hair and make-up of a group of women as they looked on through gold, shimmery mirrors.  The stylists were wearing black shirts that said, “GIVING BACK.”  What makes this so spectacular is that at the time I cut this photo out of the magazine, I wasn’t sure why it stood out to me- just that it showed women being pampered and I wanted to be one of those women!  Amazingly, June of 2009 was when the idea for the first Weekend for Women Conference began coming together and the idea of offering a night of pampering (through local salon volunteers) to attendees was born!  I also put a photo of a person in a relaxing Adirondack chair looking out over the water with the words, “Natural Getaway” underneath.  This is spectacular because, although I had always dreamed of having a place at the beach, I never really thought it was possible until May of 2009- when we closed on our property at the beach.

On my 2010 poster (created at the end of 2009), I put the words, “From O.C. to NYC” on the vision board.  Astoundingly- At the 2010 Weekend for Women Conference, there were women from 20 different states all around the US—and specifically- there were women from Orange County, California and New York City, New York.  It was also in 2010 that the contracts were signed to hold Weekend for Women Conferences on the East Coast (Raleigh, NC) and on the West Coast (San Diego, CA).  It is positively amazing to look back at the boards now!  I tell you all of this not because I am trying to get you to go out and buy magazines to create your vision board or increase the earnings of craft stores who sell poster board, but because I have found significant value in creating these boards and that value has far outweighed the time and expense (very low cost-poster board, glue or double-sided tape, scissors, and magazines) to create them.  Take a weekend afternoon (Saturday or Sunday) this coming weekend and see what you create!  I think you will be amazed!

Weekly Roundup

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 10, 2011

Hi All!  What an exciting week!  The Weekend for Women Conference (Raleigh, NC) is almost halfway full – in only a week!  I want to remind everyone to make your hotel reservations as soon as possible at the Marriott City Center in downtown Raleigh because there are only a certain number of rooms set aside at the $99/night group rate.  Also, we strongly encourage everyone to stay at the hotel in order to fully engage in the weekend conference.  It’s hard to come and focus on the education and socializing when you are worrying about what time you have to get home to let the dog out or what time little Jimmy has to be picked up.  Trust me—you deserve one weekend per year to focus on yourself!

I am also starting an exciting new project in collaboration with Kerri Morrone Sparling and Scott Johnson this month.  We are working together to create a Diabetes Pregnancy/Parenting Guide for JDRF.  How exciting! I'll keep you updated on when to expect its release...most likely the 4th Quarter of this year.

It’s also that time of year again—time to have my thyroid checked.  Last year at this time, I had just completed my radioactive iodine treatment.  Now, it’s time for my annual check up to ensure that the cancer hasn’t returned.  All prayers are greatly appreciated!

And finally…my foot seems to be healing nicely.  You may recall that I had bunion surgery back in October (20th). All of the swelling is almost gone and I have even worn boots with modest heels on them.   For anyone who has been contemplating bunion surgery, I highly recommend it!  My foot does not ache nearly as much (not at all, really) as before the surgery.  And just in case you were wondering-- My diabetes caused no issues/complications with healing.

We have an important Volunteer Check-in call this Wednesday.  Tanya, our Volunteer Coordinator, leads these monthly calls.  It is an opportunity for volunteers to share what they are working on, ask for input from the rest of the team, get to know the entire volunteer team from around the US, and learn about the latest happenings with the organization before everyone else does.  If you are interested in joining us for this call, please email Tanya@diabetessisters.org.

We also have a PODS Leader Training coming up on Thursday, Feb 3rd at 7pm.  This call is open to all women who would like to start PODS Meetup in their area and to those women who have already started a PODS Meetup in their area.  The first 30 minutes will be devoted to the new PODS Leaders.  Then, the current PODS Leaders will join the call at 7:30pm to share their experience with the entire group.  If you are interested in starting a PODS Meetup or would just like more information, please email Kelli at kelli@diabetessisters.org.

 

ADA Sets NEW Standards of Care for 2011

sisterSTAFF Blog

January 2, 2011

Hi all!  I have taken some time in the last week to review the new criteria set forth by the American Diabetes Association.  To assist women, I have removed the information from the guidelines that pertain to pregnancy (Gestational, Type 2, and Type 1). My goal is to help you prepare for and manage your pregnancy successful and to also advocate for your health by using the guidelines below.  For example, if you have diabetes and are considering pregnancy, be assertive and assemble a multidisciplinary team that you would like to oversee you during your pregnancy.  If you experienced gestational diabetes and did not receive an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test between 6-12 weeks after you gave birth, ask your doctor for an OGTT.

All Women

Every woman (except those who received a diabetes diagnosis prior to pregnancy) should have a 75 gram Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) between 24-28 weeks of gestation. 

*A recent study revealed that 1 out of 3 women do not receive this test as recommended.

Gestational Diabetes

All pregnant women (except those with a prior diabetes diagnosis) should have a 75 gram Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) performed during weeks 24-28 of gestation.  Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed when any of the following values are exceeded: 

  •  fasting glucose is > 92 mg/dl
  • 1-hr post-prandial glucose is > 180mg/dl     
  •  2-hr post-prandial glucose is > 153 mg/dl  

Goals During Pregnancy for Women with Gestational Diabetes

Goals for glycemic control for women with Gestational Diabetes (based on recommendations from the Fifth International Workshop- Conference on Gestational Diabetes) are to target maternal glucose levels of:     

  • Pre-prandial <95 mg/dl (5.3 mmol/l) and either     
  • 1-h post-meal <140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/l) or
  • 2-h post-meal <120 mg/dl (6.7 mmol/l

 

Post-Pregnancy Guidelines for Women with Gestational Diabetes

  • Women with a history of Gestational Diabetes should be screened for diabetes 6-12 weeks postpartum, using non-pregnant Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.
  • Women with a history of Gestational Diabetes should have lifelong screening for the development of diabetes or pre-diabetes at least every 3 years.

 

Type 2 Diabetes

All pregnant women with risk factors for Type 2 diabetes (physical inactivity, first-degree relative with diabetes, high-risk race/ethnicity, women who delivered a baby weighing >9 lb or were diagnosed with GDM, hypertension, HDL cholesterol, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), A1C >5.7%, IGT, or IFG on previous testing, history of CVD) should be tested for diabetes on their FIRST neonatal visit.  A diagnosis at this stage is considered to be Type 2 diabetes (not gestational diabetes).

 

Pre-conception Care for Women with Type 2 Diabetes

Women with diabetes who are contemplating pregnancy should be seen frequently by a multidisciplinary team experienced in the management of diabetes before and during pregnancy. Evidence supports the concept that malformations can be reduced or prevented by careful management of diabetes before pregnancy. The goals of preconception care are to 1) involve and empower the patient in the management of her diabetes, 2) achieve the lowest A1C test results possible without excessive hypoglycemia, 3) assure effective contraception until stable and acceptable glycemia is achieved, and 4) identify, evaluate, and treat long-term diabetes complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, hypertension, and heart disease.  Among the drugs commonly used in the treatment of patients with diabetes, a number may be relatively or absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy.  Statins are Category X (contraindicated for use in pregnancy) and should be discontinued before conception, as should ACE inhibitors. ARBs are category C (risk cannot be ruled out) in the first trimester but category D (positive evidence of risk) in later pregnancy and should generally be discontinued before pregnancy.  Among the oral anti-diabetic agents, metformin and acarbose are classified as category B (no evidence of risk in humans) and all others as category C. Potential risks and benefits of oral anti-diabetic agents in the preconception period must be carefully weighed, recognizing that data are insufficient to establish the safety of these agents in pregnancy.

 

Goals During Pregnancy for Women with Type 2 Diabetes

For women with pre-existing type 2 diabetes who become pregnant, a recent consensus statement recommended the following as optimal glycemic goals, if they can be achieved without excessive hypoglycemia: 

  • Pre-meal, bedtime, and overnight glucose 60–99 mg/dl (3.3–5.4 mmol/l)      
  • peak postprandial glucose 100 –129  mg/dl (5.4 –7.1mmol/l)
  • A1C 6.0% 

Type 1 Diabetes

Pre-conception Care for Women with Type 1 Diabetes

Planned pregnancies greatly facilitate preconception diabetes care. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of pregnancies in women with diabetes are unplanned, leading to a persistent excess of malformations in infants of diabetic mothers. Evidence supports the concept that malformations can be reduced or prevented by careful management of diabetes before pregnancy. Women with Type 1 diabetes who are contemplating pregnancy should be seen frequently by a multidisciplinary team experienced in the management of diabetes before and during pregnancy. The goals of preconception care are to 1) involve and empower the patient in the management of her diabetes, 2) achieve the lowest A1C test results possible without excessive hypoglycemia, 3) assure effective contraception until stable and acceptable glycemia is achieved, and 4) identify, evaluate, and treat long-term diabetes complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, hypertension, and heart disease.  Among the drugs commonly used in the treatment of patients with diabetes, a number may be relatively or absolutely contraindicated during pregnancy.  Statins are Category X (contraindicated for use in pregnancy) and should be discontinued before conception, as should ACE inhibitors. ARBs are category C (risk cannot be ruled out) in the first trimester but category D (positive evidence of risk) in later pregnancy and should generally be discontinued before pregnancy.

 

Goals During Pregnancy for Women with Type 1 Diabetes

For women with pre-existing type 1 diabetes who become pregnant, a recent consensus statement recommended the following as optimal glycemic goals, if they can be achieved without excessive hypoglycemia:

  • Pre-meal, bedtime, and overnight glucose 60–99 mg/dl (3.3–5.4 mmol/l)        
  • peak postprandial glucose 100 –129 mg/dl (5.4 –7.1mmol/l)        
  •  A1C 6.0%

The frequency and timing of Blood Glucose Monitoring should be dictated by the particular needs and goals of the patient. Blood Glucose Monitoring is especially important for patients treated with insulin to monitor for and prevent asymptomatic hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. For most patients with type 1 diabetes and pregnant women taking insulin, Blood Glucose Monitoring is recommended three or more times daily. For these populations, significantly more frequent testing may be required to reach A1C targets safely without hypoglycemia.

Retinopathy Precautions Before/During Pregnancy

Women with pre-existing diabetes who are planning a pregnancy or who have become pregnant should have a comprehensive eye examination and should be counseled on the risk of development and/or progression of diabetic retinopathy.  Eye examination should occur in the first trimester with close follow-up throughout pregnancy and for 1 year postpartum.  Specifically, studies have shown that pregnancy in women with Type 1 diabetes can aggravate retinopathy.

Management of Hypertension in Pregnancy

During pregnancy in diabetic women with chronic hypertension, target blood pressure goals of systolic blood pressure 110 –129 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure 65–79 mmHg are reasonable, as they contribute to long-term maternal health. Lower blood pressure levels may be associated with impaired fetal growth. During pregnancy, treatment with ACE inhibitors and ARBs is contraindicated, since they can cause fetal damage. Anti-hypertensive drugs known to be effective and safe in pregnancy include methyldopa, labetalol, diltiazem, clonidine, and prazosin. Chronic diuretic use during pregnancy has been associated with restricted maternal plasma volume, which might reduce uteroplacental perfusion

General Recommendations:

  • A1C levels should be as close to normal as possible (7%) in an individual patient before conception is attempted.
  • Starting at puberty, preconception counseling should be incorporated in the routine diabetes clinic visit for all women of child-bearing potential.  Pre-conception counseling should include 1) education about the risk of malformations associated with unplanned pregnancies and poor metabolic control; and 2) use of effective contraception at all times, unless the patient has good metabolic control and is actively trying to conceive. 
  • Women with diabetes who are contemplating pregnancy should be evaluated and, if indicated, treated for diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Medications should be evaluated prior to conception, since drugs commonly used to treat diabetes and its complications may be contraindicated or not recommended in pregnancy, including statins, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and most noninsulin therapies.

 

2010- The Year in Review

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 28, 2010

Last week I discussed how thankful I am for each and every one of my DiabetesSisters.  After all, without you the organization wouldn’t exist—and, yes indeed, I would be lonely!  This week, I’d like to take a walk down memory lane to reminisce and be grateful for all of the wonderful happenings in the history of DiabetesSisters in 2010. 

JOIN ME FOR A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE (2010):

On January 1, 2010, registration for the 2010 Weekend for Women Conference in Raleigh, NC opened at 8am.  At 8:01 am, we had our first registrant!  In fact, we filled all 100 spots for this first-time event within 6 weeks and had a waiting list of 100 women.  The Conference was a partnership between DiabetesSisters and Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD).

Leading up to the Conference, DiabetesSisters was featured on all three affiliate news stations (ABC, NBC, and CBS) as well as in the Raleigh News & Observer and The Durham Herald.  Press Releases were also featured in Diabetes Health.

In April, DiabetesSisters received approval of their Adwords grant (which was applied for 9 months prior).  This grant allows DiabetesSisters to receive free internet advertising courtesy of Google.  Thanks Google!

On May 22-23, 2010, 100 women with Type 1, Type 2, Type 1.5, and gestational diabetes ranging in age from 20-81 descended on Raleigh, NC for the FIRST EVER national conference for women with diabetes (the 2010 Weekend for Women Conference).  It was 24 hours of fun and festivities- not to mention lots of learning!  Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, was our keynote speaker.  The entire event was phenomenal!

As a result of the Conference, many attendees initiated PODS Meetups in their city and we saw the first PODS Meetups take place outside Raleigh, NC in the fourth quarter of 2010. Many more locations are scheduled to start meeting in 2011.  Check our Event Calendar for more information.  Also of great importance, DiabetesSisters received its largest personal donation ($5700) from the parents of a Conference attendee. 

In the summer of 2010, the DiabetesSisters website(www.diabetessisters.org) was refreshed—including new photos on the homepage to reiterate our commitment to diversity.   Member Stories were also added to display when the image is clicked on and we upgraded our newsletter software.

In early Fall 2010, DiabetesSisters received notoriety in a number of well-known diabetes publications such as Practical Diabetology and Diabetes Self-Management as well as some general consumer publications such as womansday.com.

In October, I (Brandy Barnes) was a featured speaker at Behavioral Diabetes Institute’s Annual Celebration of Strength Luncheon.  While in San Diego, DiabetesSisters and BDI entered into an official partnership to hold a Weekend for Women Conference on the West Coast in the Fall of 2011.  The conference date was set for October 7-9, 2011 and the contract was signed with the Hilton Bayfront San Deigo.

As a result of the dramatic growth of the organization in 2010, we added three much-needed volunteer positions- Volunteer Coordinator (Tanya Tai Varanelli), Quarterly Gathering Coordinator (Megan Wilder), and National PODS Meetup Coordinator (Kelli Turner). 

In November 2010, we (in collaboration with Micromass Communications) released our first promotional video.  Also, in coordination with National Diabetes Month, DiabetesSisters launched the orange:will campaign(www.orangewill.org) to increase awareness about the unique challenges faced by women with diabetes.   

December 2010 was a big month for DiabetesSisters in terms of publicity. We had feature articles in All You magazine and in Diabetes Forecast magazine.   In addition, we involved our members in a survey (created by Micromass Communications) to bring light to the unique experiences/issues faced by women with diabetes.  In fact, the study uncovered a loss of libido and increase in body image disturbances among women with diabetes.  This pointed to the need for education and support in combating the negative effects of the disease.

The website hit some big milestones this year by reaching more than 10,000 visitors per month.  At the end of 2010, DiabetesSisters has over 3,000 registered members and our SisterMatch program has successfully matched 388 Sister Matches.

Our website introduced you to some outstanding women, many of whom stepped outside their comfort zone to share their diabetes experiences online for the first time.  Our 2010 esteemed Blog Team include: Ann Gann, Markee Flint, Anna, Ronda Williams, Sarah Condon, Brenda Aptapovich and Marci Williams.  Thank you, Ladies, for doing your part to reduce the isolation among and improve the lives of women with diabetes. Opening your life to world is no easy task!  Our website also raised awareness about an important, yet often overlooked aspect of good diabetes management- eye health.  Through the help of our partner, VSP, DiabetesSisters introduced you to Dr. Samia Idris, who provided monthly tips for good eye health.  

As we embark on the final days of what has been a phenomenal year for DiabetesSisters, I am thoroughly humbled by all the ways that God has used me this year to remove the isolation that has existed for far too long for far too many women with diabetes.  I am ecstatic to get started on another year and marvel over all that has been accomplished at the end of 2011.

PS-- DON'T FORGET THAT REGISTRATION FOR THE 2011 WEEKEND FOR WOMEN CONFERENCE OPENS ON SAT., JANUARY 1, AT 8:00am.   SPOTS WILL FILL QUICKLY, SO RESERVE YOUR SPOT ASAP.

Thank You, Sisters, for a Wonderful Year!

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 21, 2010

Hi Sisters!  It’s that time of year again!  Time to start replaying the highlights of 2010 and thinking about all those things you’re thankful for.  Many of us are blessed with friends, family, and others who bring positive to our lives.  Personally, my blessings have seemingly multiplied over the past three years because of ….YOU!  Yes, each and every one of you has brought something positive to my life.  Without you, DiabetesSisters would not exist!  Without DiabetesSisters, I would not have had the opportunity to connect with, learn from, and talk to hundreds of thousands of women with diabetes and neither would you. 

I am so proud to be leading an organization that is full of positive role models, women with such good hearts, and women who truly want and need the help of other women.  It is also refreshing to see women coming together for a specific cause and supporting each other to become better people.  Too often, we hear the headline stories about crime and negativity in the world.  The Sisterhood shines a bright light on the positive that exists in this world among strong, vibrant women.

I am also proud to represent an organization that is rich with diversity.  Last week, while in Washington, DC speaking with potential partners, I was proud to talk about the diversity of our organization.  For example, at this year’s Weekend for Women Conference, seven decades of women were represented.  Women ranged in age from 20-81.  There were women with Type 1, Type 2, and Type 1.5 diabetes in attendance and the invisible line in the sand between the different types of diabetes vanished.  There were also women of many different nationalities present- including African-America, Indian American, Asian American, and Hispanic.  It was like looking at a small ‘footprint’ of the world’s population of women-- in one room.  In our SisterMatch program, we have matched women the edges of the Earth to women right here in the US and vice versa.  Many are women who do not know another woman with diabetes and they are matched with women half way around the world!  Where else do you have the opportunity to engage with a woman like YOU who is half way around the world? 

The emails I receive on a daily basis from women-- not just women with diabetes, but women who are excited about what we are doing-- are astounding!  For example, today I received a generous email from Yetta Young of YYP (known for her production of “The Vagina Monologues”).  She reached out to alert me about a potential grant opportunity….definitely information she didn’t have to provide to someone she doesn’t know, but it is a great example of women supporting women and looking out for each other….what a great network to be a part of!!     

So, this holiday season I will be thankful for the blessing of Sisterhood in my life.  I hope you will be too!  Thank you Sisters!

 

Advocating for my Sisters in Washington DC

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 14, 2010

Hi!  I am writing this week’s blog while waiting on my delayed (three times now!) flight back to North Carolina from Washington DC.  I am excited to share this week’s happenings in Washington DC with you!  Very exciting stuff!

First, I must give a big Thank You to my friends at Sanofi-Aventis External Affairs- Rachel Couchenour and Debbie McGarity!  Thanks to them, DiabetesSisters is now known by many more key people in the diabetes and chronic illness arena.  This week, I was introduced to Lisa Tate, CEO of WomenHeart (www.womenheart.org), Martha Nolan and Jo Parrish of the Society for Women’s Health Research (www.swhr.org) , Marissa Bushee of Healthy Women (www.healthywomen.org), Allyson Rosen and Gina Mangiaracina of the STOP Obesity Alliance (www.stopobesityalliance.org), Iris Hunter and Diana Karczmarczyk of the American Diabetes Assocation’s Community Initiatives (www.diabetes.org).

I also met some really impressive people from Sanofi-Aventis (aside from Rachel and Debbie, of course!) such as Mike Capaldi,  Sabrina Spitaletta (Civic Action Programs) and MaryAnne Dunlap (Federal Government Affairs) to discuss advocacy issues and to better understand how to make an impact on Capitol Hill.

I am very pleased to say that many of the organizations we met with already understood the unique issues faced by women with diabetes and those that didn’t were certainly open t learning about them.  In fact, some already have agendas in place to address these issues in 2011.  You can expect to hear exciting partnership announcements from DiabetesSisters over the next few months as a result of this trip. 

If you don’t currently subscribe to our monthly newsletter, I encourage you to do so at the bottom of our homepage: www.diabetessisters.org.  If you are a registered member with DiabetesSisters, you will automatically receive the newsletter.  The newsletter will provide monthly updates about the latest happenings at DiabetesSisters.  Trust me-- You don’t want to miss them!