Sharon Bretzfield was diagnosed with diabetes right after she finished college, so she didn’t grow up managing it. She had never met another person with type 1 diabetes who was diagnosed as a young adult, and wondered if she was the only one – at least the only one in the Arlington, VA/Greater DC area. She started looking online for others with the same diabetes story, particularly those striving to be healthy, exercise, eat, and live with diabetes.
Sharon stumbled upon DiabetesSisters.org in 2018, and attended a few DiabetesSisters of Arlington PODS Meetups. When the PODS leader moved a few months later, Sharon volunteered to step into the leadership role for the group. One attendee showed up for the first meeting Sharon led, amd they had a fantastic, hour-long conversation and learned a lot from each other. From that point the group has grown gradually, with between 3-6 women attending the monthly meetings.
Sharon says that most members have very similar stories and struggles. It’s nice to know they can talk about common struggles and that everyone shares an understanding of the challenges with this disease. After trying and stopping her use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), Sharon recently decided to start using one again. A PODS member shared with the group about her own journey with the device, and without having the conversation and friendship Sharon would not have considered going back on a CGM again.
The group loves to talk about the different technology they use for monitoring blood sugar (continuously or single-check), infusing insulin, or other diabetes management tasks. They have also discussed snacks to treat low blood sugar, as well as insurance obstacles. They share stories about their diagnoses, each of their journeys so far, and funny stories about living with diabetes as well.
While in other parts of her life Sharon doesn't start introducing herself with “Hi, I’m Sharon and I have diabetes,” she feels comfortable at a PODS meeting knowing that if something happens like her CGM alert sounding, no one blinks an eye. When that very thing happened at a recent meeting, a dSister just asked if she was okay – no big deal. (Usually others without diabetes think it’s a weather alert or something.)
“I’m proud of being a working mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend living successfully (most days) with type 1 diabetes. I love knowing others around me who understand the daily challenges of having diabetes. At times it can feel so alone, and it’s good to know we have friends living the same life. The more information we share with each other, the better!”
Since 2010 the Part Of DiabetesSisters (PODS) Meetup program has offered monthly support to women living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, and provided a nonjudgmental place to discuss the successes and challenges of living with diabetes. Led by women who live with diabetes, the groups offer true peer support focused on women and diabetes. The PODS Meetup Program reaches more than 1,300 women annually, in person (in 22 states) and online (members meet via computer cameras from the comfort of their own home). Women age 18 and up, living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, are invited to attend PODS Meetups. If you would like more information on local PODS Meetups near you, or starting a group in your community, please complete the PODS Meetup inquiry form – we look forward to hearing from you!