Sometimes the best discoveries come from an online search. In January 2014, Sarah MacLeod found DiabetesSisters online and filled out a form to say she was interested in finding a PODS Meetup near her, in Massachusetts or the surrounding area. She found out that no one had started a PODS Meetup near her (yet), and clicked another box or link saying she would like to start one. Sarah says she knew from her first phone call about PODS that her life was going to change – and it sure has.
Shortly after starting the PODS Meetup, Sarah met Sandy Brooks through another online diabetes resource and invited her to join the new PODS. Sandy has lived with surgical diabetes since 2013. Sarah invited Sandy to co-lead with her after regularly attending the meetings for more than a year. Then the PODS Meetup moved to Sandy’s home in Braintree, MA, and that is where they still meet today – a small yet powerful group of 3-5 women, as well as a few diabetes alert dogs, in attendance.
Sarah knew from struggles with diabulimia and finding recovery through online peer support that it was possible and important to find others facing the same chronic conditions who understand their similar challenges. She knew she wanted to find peer support and new friends beyond the computer screen, and to create a sense of community together.
The PODS members have free-flowing discussions about dealing with diabetes in real life and help each other find solutions to common challenges such as obtaining diabetes supplies. They have spent time preparing healthy meals together, preparing and roasting fresh vegetables, discussing potential health benefits of different ingredients such as turmeric, and sharing practical ways to incorporate more fresh veggies into their daily eating.
Being a PODS Leader has helped Sandy realize that each woman’s approach to diabetes management is unique – there is no one-size-fits-all approach. She has learned many tips & tricks from PODS members about managing seemingly little things - everyday things that are not written down anywhere, but that make life that much easier.
According to Sarah, PODS Meetups are the one time a month that members can drop everything else to really focus on themselves, their diabetes management, and friendships they’ve formed on their journeys of life with diabetes. “When I became a PODS leader, suddenly diabetes didn't feel so lonely. We truly are lucky to have formed these special bonds with each other.”
Since 2010 the Part Of DiabetesSisters (PODS) Meetup program has offered monthly support to women living with any type of diabetes or prediabetes, providing a safe and nonjudgmental place to discuss the successes and challenges of living with diabetes. Led by women living 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!