sisterSTAFF Blog

sisterSTAFF Blog

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!

A Car Magnet is so much more than...a Car Magnet

sisterSTAFF Blog

December 7, 2010

Picture this:  My husband and I are driving down Hwy 15-501 (in Durham, NC) on Friday evening after a dinner date.  I am just blabbing away about Christmas gifts and suddenly my husband says, “Brandy!  Look on the bumper in front of us!  DiabetesSisters!”   I got so excited!  I have seen DiabetesSisters magnets on the vehicles of the women who attend our local PODS meetups and Lord knows that I have sent out many magnets in the mail to members who bought them online, but to see a magnet on the car of someone you don’t know is….well, I guess it’s like being a singer and hearing your song on the radio for the first time!  I was ecstatic!  To think that three years ago I knew very few women with diabetes (and none at the friendship level, really) and now I have the opportunity to blow my horn, smile, and wave at my DiabetesSisters on the road! 

As a woman with diabetes, it is amazing how something small like that can lift your spirits!  To a woman with diabetes, seeing a DiabetesSisters magnet on someone else’s car is like driving down the road and having someone whisper, “I just want you to know that you are not alone in your diabetes!  I have diabetes too!  And, together, we can do this!”  It is so incredibly empowering!  It makes me feel like we are a strong, cohesive group and we can accomplish BIG things! J  If you are interested in donning a DS magnet on your car and increasing the Sisterhood, we are offering a free car magnet with the purchase of any t-shirt this month: http://www.diabetessisters.org/get-involved/buy-a-diabetessisters-t-shirt

So, if you were on Hwy 15-501, turning right onto Mt. Moriah Road around 7:30pm on Friday night and you drive a Hyundai Tucson with a DiabetesSisters magnet on the bumper—I saw you, Sister!  And it made my day to know that I was right behind a woman who “just gets me!”

 

Giving Thanks and More!

sisterSTAFF Blog

November 30, 2010

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  I had a very eventful Thanksgiving weekend at the beach with my extended family.  Just before Thanksgiving, an article about three women (I am honored to be one of the women!) who followed their passion and are making a living doing what they love came out in All You magazine (available at check-out counter in all Wal-Marts nationwide).  My story describes the trials and tribulations of getting DiabetesSisters off the ground.  It is entitled, “I make a difference…and a living.”  If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here: http://www.diabetessisters.org/creating-an-online-community-for-women-with-diabetes .  However, I strongly encourage you to read the entire story about all three women in the article if you have an opportunity to pick up the magazine in Wal-Mart.  The other two women are quite inspirational!


Also, just this week, an article came out in the December issue of Diabetes Forecast magazine entitled “Doing Well and Doing Good: 12 People with Diabetes Who are Helping Others”.  If you don’t get the magazine, you can read the article here: http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/features/doing-well-and-doing-good-12-people-diabetes-who-are-helping-others.

In last week’s blog, I discussed the question that I have received on occasion from strangers: “Do you have the ‘bad kind’ of diabetes?”  It was a very timely blog because the Chicago Tribune printed an article about the tension that exists between people with Type 1 diabetes and people with Type 2 diabetes last week.  It was a very polarizing article, in my opinion.  You can read it here:   http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-diabetes-rift-20101122,0,6585739.story  I feel like it pits Type 1s against Type 2s and vice versa and adds fuel to the fire.  Have you ever heard of the concept “divide and conquer”?  It seems very fitting here.  We will never have a strong voice if we spend our time fighting each other!  Anyway, here’s to educating ourselves about the different types of diabetes, so that we can educate others and remove the myths that exist about diabetes.  Here is a great article to help you brush up on your diabetes knowledge: http://forecast.diabetes.org/magazine/diabetes-101/endocrine-system. How much more powerful would you feel the next time someone says something incorrect/offensive about diabetes and you take the time to educate them about the “reality of diabetes”?  We can do it…one step at a time.  But, we have to step up and do our part to make a change!  People aren’t going to change their way of thinking on their own.

Do you have 'the bad kind of diabetes'?

sisterSTAFF Blog

November 22, 2010

I despise this question!  How many people have heard this question when they’ve told someone that they have diabetes:  “Which kind do you have?  It’s not the bad kind, is it?”  To which I take a deep breath, try hard to control my emotions and say, “I’m not sure what you mean.  There are a few different types of diabetes, but there is no ‘bad’ kind of diabetes.”  Then, I go on to explain- “There are two main types of diabetes: In Type 1 diabetes, which is the kind that I have, the pancreas just completely stops producing insulin and we are required to go on insulin shots immediately.  With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas gradually putters out, so insulin replacement isn’t required immediately.  However, if the person with Type 2 diabetes outlives the gradual demise of their pancreas, they will require insulin as well.  For every person the time that it takes their pancreas to putter out is different.  For some it’s two years and for others it’s two decades.”


Unfortunately, because of the myths and misunderstandings that exist about diabetes, we, as an empowered, educated community have the opportunity to make our voice heard, educate the public, and correct these ‘untruths’.  For example, because many of our grandparents and great-grandparents with type 2 diabetes were not initiated on insulin until long after complications had set in, many of them either had amputations or died shortly after going on insulin.  Thus, many believed that the insulin was the cause of their demise.  In fact, what is misunderstood is the fact that many of them would have escaped the complications and even death if they had started insulin injections earlier and gotten their diabetes under control.  So, for many, those with diabetes who are on insulin (all type 1s and some type 2s) have the “bad kind of diabetes.” 


Then, there are those who buy in to the images of type 2 diabetes that are displayed in the media.  That is, the inaccurate depictions of people with type 2 diabetes being old, overweight, and lazy.  Those who buy in to these ‘untruths’ are the ones who will say things like, “If you would just exercise, your diabetes would go away” to the undeserving person with diabetes.   These people view type 2 diabetes as ‘the bad diabetes’ because, in their minds, it is a disease that only belongs to people who are overweight and could have prevented their disease if they would have done what they were supposed to do.


We can’t always blame these people for their lack of knowledge.  Nor will it do us any good to yell at them.  Most of them are simply going by what they have seen or heard.  However, what we can do is view each of these ‘run-ins’ with untruths, myths, misunderstandings as an opportunity to educate the person/people on the ‘truths’ of diabetes.  This will not only help us in dismantling the myths about diabetes, but it will also empower each of us, as individuals.  Speaking up (rather than ignoring incorrect comments) gives us a sense of control over the situation.  After all, who is going to argue about a disease with a person who is living with the disease and can speak knowledgeably about the different types.  It is a losing battle for that person. 

Sisterly Advice: Make sure you know the differences in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  You can read about them here: http://www.diabetessisters.org/learn-the-facts/types-of-diabetesThen, practice explaining the differences to yourself.  Then, the next time that someone says something incorrect or makes a derogatory comment about people with diabetes, use your knowledge to stand up with a powerful voice. WE ARE OUR OWN BEST ADVOCATES!        

Taking a "Diabetes Vacation" ???

sisterSTAFF Blog

November 16, 2010

Hi all!  I hope you are well.  I am getting excited about spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my extended family at the beach.  We always have such a good time and make great memories! 

I was reading a brochure/pamphlet put out by the Behavioral Diabetes Institute called “The Emotional Side of Diabetes: 10 Things You Need to Know” and I was surprised to read #10- Taking a Diabetes Vacation.  No one has ever discussed taking a diabetes vacation with me—and in my mind, I had just come to accept the fact that I will never get a break from diabetes.  Now, I do ‘slack off’ on my diabetes management from time to time—mainly when I get really busy.  The brochure suggests planning a break from diabetes, making it time-limited and restorative.  Now that I have been iving with diabetes for more than 20 years, taking a break seems like such a foreign concept.  I am not against this idea.  I am simply trying to think through how it would really work because I can’t imagine going an entire day and purposely not checking my blood sugar.  Also, I am insulin-dependent (on an insulin pump), so I’m not sure how I would take a break from insulin!?!?  I pretty much eat what I want every day, so ‘eating what I want’ wouldn’t really provide a vacation from my diabetes. 

I am curious to hear from others who have taken a “DIABETES VACATION.”  How did you do it?  What are your suggestions? 

 

Update on 2011 Weekend for Women Conference Series

sisterSTAFF Blog

November 9, 2010

Happy Diabetes Blog Day everyone!  In case you were unaware, Nov 9th has been declared D-Blog Day! This past Sunday, DiabetesSisters officially launched the orange:will campaign in downtown Raleigh, NC.  If you are unfamiliar with the campaign- it’s purpose is to celebrate the strength, will, and determination of women with diabetes and to make orange synonymous with women’s diabetes just as red is synonymous with women’s heart health and pink is synonymous with breast cancer.  Our goal is to get 500 orange photos posted at www.orangewill.org to get the campaign off the ground.  Can you help by uploading a photo of anything orange in honor of yourself or a woman you know with diabetes?  We’re almost to 150 photos already! 

This week, the 2011 Weekend for Women Conference (Raleigh, NC) planning committee is meeting for it’s second planning meeting. We have a vibrant, committed group of women who are determined to plan a conference that surpasses last year’s event (pretty tall order!).  If you are in the Raleigh area and would like to get involved (monthly meeting attendance and active participation is required) as a planning committee member, please send an email to info@diabetessisters.org.  We have a couple of spaces left on the committee.  This year’s conference will take place from Friday, April 29-Sunday, May 1.  So, it will last longer, more time will be provided for each educational session, the opportunities to connect with other women who are living with diabetes will be more plentiful, and there will be an Exhibit Hall (with specialized vendors) for women to find out about the latest products and services.  The theme for 2011 is Celebration of Strength.  Registration for the Raleigh, NC Conference will open on January 1, 2011, so please mark your calendar.  To provide a certain level of intimacy, registration is limited to the first 200 paid registrants. (No refunds are available, so please be sure you can attend before registering.)  The registration is currently estimated to be $100 (same as last year).  To reduce out of pocket expenses for conference registrants, a group hotel rate has been negotiated with the Marriott City Center for $99/night.  You can reduce that cost even further by sharing a room with one of your DiabetesSisters.  Last year, the registration was filled VERY QUICKLY (and we had a waiting list of 100 women), so please make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity to make your health a priority in 2011!  A limited number of scholarships will be available and scholarship applications will be available on January 1, 2011.  Ask for it for CHRISTMAS or an early MOTHER’S DAY gift.  Any woman who attended last year will tell you that it was well worth their time and money! 

Information about the 2011 Weekend for Women Conference in San Diego, CA will shared as soon as it is available.  I can tell you that the conference will take place on October 7-9, 2011 at Hilton San Diego BayFront.

 

The meaning of ORANGE

sisterSTAFF Blog

November 1, 2010

 

Welcome Back!  I hope you are planning to join us this Sunday, November 7th from 2-5pm at Gravy Restaurant (www.gravy-raleigh.com) in downtown Raleigh (135 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, NC 27601).  Join us for friends, food and fun!  We’ll have lots of great food, fun activities, opportunities to show your orange:will spirit, great items to bid on and ALL proceeds will go to diabetes research and support programs.  We will be auctioning tickets to professional sports games as well as art from local artists.  If you have an item(s) that you would like to donate for this event (items for auction or a financial donation), please contact me immediately at bbarnes@diabetessisters.org.

Recently, the question arose about why/how the color orange was chosen to represent women with diabetes.  I wish I had a very deep meaningful reason behind the choosing of the color.  To be honest, when I created the website, I knew I wanted burnt orange to be the main color because it is a very warm, welcoming color.  In fact, the most common comment I receive about the website is that it is “inviting.”  I have to thank fellow blogger, Michael Hoskins, for doing some background research on the color orange for me.  I think you’ll see that orange is a VERY fitting color to represent women with diabetes.  Based on Michael’s research, “Orange is a power color. It is one of the healing colors. It also stimulates enthusiasm and creativity. Orange means vitality with endurance. It's also Lady Luck's color.” 

Based on my research: Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

To the human eye, orange is a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat. Nevertheless, orange is not as aggressive as red. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. It is highly accepted among young people. As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.  Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design.”

I hope you feel well represented by the color orange!  See you this Sunday!

 

Surgery and ORANGE:WILL

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 25, 2010

Hello Sisters!  I had bunion surgery last Wednesday, so I am almost a week out from the surgery.  I have been on pain meds for the better part of this last week, so I am glad to be back to my “normal self.”  I observed one important thing about anesthesia/pain meds that I want to pass on to my Sisters:  It’s best to clear your mind of all stressors before going under anesthesia/pain meds or else those issues that were stressors will become huge boulders when you are on mind-altering medications.  It seems as if the mind-altering medications intensify/exaggerate whatever feelings you were feeling just before you were put under.  So, my best advice is to clear your mind, get everything off your chest, and be ready to relax, and muster up all of your orange:will when you go in for surgery or else you will spend unnecessary time worrying about issues that ‘seem’ larger than they really are!! Now, on to more EXCITING THINGS like the ORANGE:WILL campaign!  After the initial email about this campaign was sent out last week…the t-shirt orders started pouring in!  We sold 25 orange:will t-shirts in a snap!   I was ecstatic!  It’s more than rewarding to see women coming together for a cause and see the inherent power that exists in our unity. 

NOW is the time for this campaign to make an impact in America.  When I turn on the television, I see the power of women that is boiling to the top every day.  I see that American society is beginning to realize how powerful we are….through the breast cancer and heart disease campaigns, the female leadership in companies, and just the outright acknowledgment from many of the corporate figures I have spoken with that women are the heartbeat of American healthcare because WE are the primary healthcare consumers.  In other words, we’re the ones who take on the responsibility of keeping our families healthy—by sending them to the doctor, making decisions about food products in the house, making decisions about family activities, and purchasing the majority of products in our homes.  Let’s face it, ladies!  We have a lot of POWER!  It’s up to us to harness that power and do something impactful and meaningful with it—in unity!  That’s where the orange:will campaign comes in.  This campaign outwardly acknowledges the inherent (and often overlooked) power that exists within women with diabetes.  Being a woman with diabetes requires ‘orange will’ to deal with the daily ups and downs of diabetes in addition to the many other responsibilities in our lives.  Orange:will also represents the fact that orange will empower, uplift, and unite women with diabetes around the world.  I hope you will join us at the event (Date/Time to be announced soon) in celebrating orange:will  either in downtown Raleigh, NC or in your own city by wearing orange.  If you would like to purchase an orange:will t-shirt, we are offering FREE SHIPPING through the end of November 2010 here: http://www.diabetessisters.org/get-involved/buy-a-diabetessisters-t-shirt.

 Show your ORANGE:WILL on November 5th  

If you have wondered why the color orange was chosen to represent women with diabetes--  Came back next week to find out! 

 

Announcing www.orangewill.org

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 19, 2010

Hello Sisters!  If you are like me, you have been giving lots of thought to the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign…After all, how can you not think about it???  When you purchase something, they ask, “Would you like to donate a dollar to breast cancer awareness?”  When you turn on the television, you see burley men in pink uniforms running around on a field with a pink ribbon painted in the middle of it.  Can YOU imagine what it would be like for us (WOMEN WITH DIABETES) to get that much attention, appreciation, recognition, and funding during the month of November?  No one is ashamed to say they have/had breast cancer during the month of November.  Breast cancer surivors are proud to be strong warriors who conquered their disease-- and didn't let it conquer them! 

Can you imagine if the guilt and shame many of us feel about our diabetes was replaced with honor and pride for just one day out of the year?  Let’s do it!  Why not?!?  After all, November is NATIONAL DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH and we are WOMEN!  We’ve seen how successful these campaigns can be when they are initiated by WOMEN (think: breast cancer awareness and heart disease awareness)!!  Are you ready to do your part?!?!?  It will take each and every one us!  LET'S MAKE THE FIRST FRIDAY IN NOVEMBER WOMEN'S DIABETES AWARNESS DAY!!

DiabetesSisters has begun to lay the groundwork for this grassroots movement.  In fact, the orange:will campaign launched TODAY!  orange:will is a national campaign that will help establish a greater awareness of the unique challenges faced by women with diabetes.  The campaign represents the sheer will and determination required for women to manage their diabetes successfully.  It represents the idea that orange will empower women with diabetes, orange will engage women with diabetes, and orange will unite women with diabetes!  Orange WILL do many important things for women with diabetes!While this campaign was initiated by DiabetesSisters, we want it to be bigger than DiabetesSisters and embraced by people everywhere, not just members of the DiabetesSisters community.  Therefore, the campaign and it’s activities are housed at a separate website: www.orangewill.org. 

What is your role in the orange:will movement?  It’s quite simple, really.

1)  Upload an image of something "orange" that is meaningful to you at www.orangewill.org and encourage your friends and family to upload a photo to celebrate the strength and will you have shown in managing your diabetes. (These photos will be displayed at an upcoming launch event.)

2)  You and your loved ones can wear orange on Friday, November 5th.  We are offering Free Shipping on orange:will t-shirts through November 30, 2010: www.diabetessisters.org/get-involved/buy-a-diabetessisters-t-shirt 

3) Help spread the word about this grassroots campaign by forwarding this email to friends and family and downloading posters from the orangewill.org website and posting them around your community.

4) Mark your calendar for Friday, November 5, 2010 for the official launch party for the orange:will campaign.  More details coming soon. 

Are you pumped yet??!?  Can you see how HUGE this could really be if we all did our part?  I urge you take my request to upload a photo onto the orange:will website seriously.  Whether the  success of this campaign is seen on a local, national, or global level is dependent on each of us doing our small part.  Now, let’s take this thing global! 

Remember--I AM WOMAN….HEAR ME ROAR!!  I AM A WOMAN WITH DIABETES…AND I HAVE ORANGE:WILL!!

Time for Surgery

sisterSTAFF Blog

October 11, 2010

Hi Sisters!  I enjoyed planting fall flowers around my house this past weekend.  As much as I don’t care for cold weather, I had to acknowledge that it was time to replace the impatiens with pansies!  That’s a true sign of Fall for me.  I consider the best time of the year to be April through September (warm weather).  When I start to feel a chill in the air, I feel a little sadness, in anticipation of the cold weather ahead.  Maybe I have “seasonal depression.”  I have seriously wondered that many times!  In fact, I literally count the months between November and April (1 month down, 5 months to go; 2 months down; 4 months to go) in anticipation of the warm weather of Spring!