Allison Hurley had lived with type 1 diabetes for about 14 years when her endocrinologist referred her to DiabetesSisters in the spring of 2016, with the hopes of starting a local support group for women with diabetes in Columbus, Ohio. Allison immediately began plans for a PODS Meetup, and led the first meeting in July 2016.
Diane Berinato had participated in and loved the Virtual PODS Meetup online for several years, and was excited to learn about the new in-person PODS Meetup in Columbus. After an initial gestational diabetes diagnosis, she has lived with type 2 for 20 years, now re-diagnosed as type 1.5/LADA. At the first meeting Diane offered to co-lead the group with Allison, and the Columbus PODS Meetup was well on its way.
The group has met at various locations around town such as libraries, parks, and different restaurants. To help spread the word about DiabetesSisters and the Columbus PODS Meetup, Ohio State University Hospital endocrinologist Kathleen Wyne, MD shares information about it with her patients. Allison and Diane have invited guest speakers to meetings, and had casual picnics, and discussion topics have included stress, communicating, and carb counting.
Diane says, “I’ve learned so much from DiabetesSisters, including how important it is to reach out to women. Every woman needs to have support and contacts to help them deal with diabetes and never feel alone.”
The need for and benefits of peer support ring through both Columbus PODS Leaders' experiences with DiabetesSisters. Allison shares that the support she's gained through meeting other women with diabetes is both very inspirational and has helped her gain better management of her health. She feels that as a PODS Leader, she gets help on her own diabetes journey by helping other women along their journeys too. "It's healing to talk with others about having diabetes, and I realize that it's important for my own growth as well."
Getting to meet and spend time with women leading PODS Meetups across the nation has also been important to Allison: "I love the dSisterhood more than anything. The information and understanding I receive from PODS Leaders is life-changing. I enjoy helping others have that same type of experience."
Diane thinks so too: "With DiabetesSisters, I feel more confident living with diabetes. I know that I make my own choices, but it is comforting to know I have a large number of women with diabetes supporting me as I make those choices. I've learned how to handle my 'bad' diabetes days, and not make it worse. I always have someone to bounce ideas around, or to listen to my complaints about diabetes. It makes such a difference knowing you have someone who truly understands what you are going through."
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!