Daphene Kimball left the very first DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women conference in Raleigh, NC, with her older sister and oldest friend, feeling empowered and energized to learn how to “do diabetes” and make diabetes decisions that valued her own experience and needs as much as her health care provider’s. That was in 2010. She started raising awareness about DiabetesSisters and PODS Meetups with a table at the Keysville, GA “Come Home to Keysville” event shortly thereafter – and has had a table there every year since.
Daphene knew she was born to lead the PODS peer support groups. She calls herself a “roving PODS Leader," ready and excited to talk to anyone who was interested in women with diabetes: on trains, the store, restaurants, all kinds of medical offices, in lots of different restrooms...anywhere that Daphene sees a woman with diabetes, she’s going to chat about DiabetesSisters and PODS: education and peer support.
In rural areas such as Johnston and Augusta, it can take 5 to 7 years for “new” diabetes info to be disseminated throughout the community. PODS attendees like to hear about and discuss topics like HbA1c blood tests, and new technology or treatments such as CGMs, insulin pumps, and injections or oral drugs. They also like to hear encouragement to learn, ask, and advocate for themselves with their health care providers. Finally, they like to discuss diabetes stigma and how language can help change those attitudes.
Daphene shares about these topics with PODS members, and with local health care providers and community leaders such as ministers as well. Instead of patients being labeled “noncompliant” or thinking they have a knowledge deficit, they can read and share new resources from DiabetesSisters, the importance of peer support for all women with diabetes or prediabetes, and new learnings from the DS website, expert articles, and monthly eNewsletter. She says, “I just put the ideas and coping mechanisms out there in the universe, and it may be just what a particular woman with diabetes needs at that time.”
Daphene likes to share about the cost-effectiveness and time savings of new diabetes technology and devices in simple ways that make sense, along with lists of places where women can go in their own communities (or nearby) to find and easily buy devices such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) or blood glucose (BG) meters. One woman Daphene recently spoke with has type 2 diabetes and has trouble remembering to check her BG and to keep track of the results. Daphene shared information with her about a CGM that could be a time-saver, AND maybe even a life-saver, for her. She also shared info about where the woman could buy that particular CGM over-the-counter at a nearby pharmacy.
Another way Daphene's PODS efforts pave the way to success is that they are multi-generational. Several generations of women may attend the same meeting and discuss diabetes topics with Daphene over the course of many years. She recently attended a baby shower for a woman with gestational diabetes, later diagnosed with type 2. Many years before this woman's mom was diagnosed with diabetes and found the PODS for both her and HER mom - now 3 generations living with type 2. Daphene and DiabetesSisters have been there to support 3 generations of strong, beautiful women with diabetes along the way.
Daphene knows that such peer support and education is vitally important for her own health and wellbeing, too. She looks forward to the DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute for PODS Leaders each year: “I immediately feel the love, the kindred spirits, and the nurturing from and for each one of us in the room – just like a bunch of B12 shots! That’s what I take away from every encounter.”
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, please complete the PODS Meetup inquiry form – we look forward to hearing from you!