Ashley Illuzzi began looking for a local diabetes support group in 2017, only a year after her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. When she couldn’t find any groups specifically for women with diabetes in the Buffalo, NY area, she made the trip to attend several Rochester PODS meetups. She enjoyed them greatly and wanted to find a way to offer the same support to women in her local area. She did some research and discovered that a Buffalo NY PODS group had been established a few years before but had become inactive. So Ashley made the commitment to become a PODS leader and in June of 2017, she officially restarted DiabetesSisters of Buffalo!
The Buffalo PODS meetings usually include at least a half-dozen members, with both new and familiar face in attendance. The discussions include a wonderful variety of topics, with group favorites such as healthy eating, dealing with stress, and physical activity. And although the members have not yet met up outside of the regular PODS meetings for other activities, it is definitely something they’d love to explore in the future.
The members of the Buffalo PODS really appreciate the safe place Ashley has provided them. They know it is a place where they are free to talk about all of the frustrations that can go along with living with diabetes. “We spend a lot of time giving each other suggestions and realizing that we are not alone in our everyday struggles. It’s a positive atmosphere that gives us the freedom to support one another.”
When asked how she feels about being a PODS leader, Ashley conveys what a wonderful experience it has been. She says “I was diagnosed with T1D at age 26 and had a very difficult time coming to terms with such a radical change in my life. It was a scary time where I had to learn a lot of things very quickly without much guidance. Joining PODS allowed me to talk to other women who went through the same struggles as I did and realize that I can still live a happy and healthy life despite my diagnosis.”
Ashley sums up her experience as a PODS Leader perfectly when she says: “It’s really great to have such strong, supportive women in my life.”
Since 2010 the PODS (Part Of DiabetesSisters) 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 better, 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!