When I received a message from Amy Tenderich asking for my information to send me an invitation to the Roche Social Media Summit, my first thought was “Why me?” — To be honest, I haven’t been talking about diabetes that much lately, and moving from KC to Chicago kind of sidetracked me from my ideas and projects for the Diabetes Hands Foundation. But somehow the word got out that I could participate, share and benefit from the event. To whoever mentioned my name: I love you! I feel like I won the lottery!
Last month I was fortunate to attend the Weekend for Women in Raleigh, and a couple of days ago I was in Orlando, not necessarily visiting Mickey Mouse, but connecting with people with diabetes in social media. It’s, by far, one of the most enriching experiences of my life and I’m absolutely grateful for it.
See the group on the photo above? They are people I have been in contact with for the past 3 years, some more than others, and they’ve been a great source of inspiration for me when it comes to understanding my diabetes and dealing with it. I tend to fall off the wagon… a lot… but I just have to go back to them to realize that I’m not alone, that I’m supported and that there is always someone working hard at getting what we need from medical companies, health care providers and everyone else involved in this cause. Yes, diabetes IS a cause and it’s MY cause.
One thing is reading online and another very different one is spending real time with this amazing group of individuals. We all speak the same language, we’re all after the same dreams, we all have the same wishes. Ironically, the language of diabetes is very sweet to me. But that’s because of how much we care about each other, how much we want to connect and support each other. I may not have seen any of these people before, but they were no strangers to me. I was amongst friends, amongst family.
To sit in a room with a bunch of individuals who are so passionate is inspiring. We have pretty awesome leaders in the community; people who work hard every day to come up with ideas and keep us connected, not only to each other, but to companies, organizations, providers. We want to be heard and they make sure we are. We want to make a difference and they lead the way so we can do that. From a great guy named Manny Hernandez who invited me to be part of TuDiabetes.org, to David Edelman and his wife Elizabeth who keep DiabetesDaily alive and going as haven for all of us, and then Will DuBois who is committed to help those who need it the most. I’m sure I’m not making justice here, but they are a few examples of how fantastic the diabetes community is. Driven, committed, kind-hearted, oriented.
The discussions with the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators gave me a new perspective. There were so many things I didn’t know! I always felt like most efforts were concentrated on patients with type 1 and it came as a HUGE surprise to learn that they feel unsupported by organizations when they’re adults. Hopefully things will change and every single diabetes patient will feel and know companies and orgs are doing everything they can to not only improve our quality of life, but actually find a cure. I may not have been the most outspoken person there (love being a wallflower, anyway!), but I feel protected… yes, that’s the word… protected. It’s not like someone is fighting my battles for me, but someone has enough strength and leadership skills to voice the concerns I can’t.
Roche did an outstanding job with preparation, travel plans, accommodations, hosting. All the reps were super nice (kuddos to Todd Siesky, it was a pleasure to sit down and talk to him!) and interested in listening in what we had to say. Every activity was handled in a very friendly manner, and for the first time in weeks I forgot about everything else in my life and put my mind and heart into the conference. So, thank you!
To each one of the people I met and got the pleasure to interact with, YOU’RE AWESOME! I’m so glad to have met all of you, and I feel privileged for making part of this community. Diabetes may not be a fun thing, but hey… it has its perks, and getting to share with you all is definitely on top.
And to finish this post, one of my happiest moments at the summit: ¡Conocí a Manny! 😀
Disclosure: Roche paid for all expenses relating to this trip including travel, lodging, meals, and incidentals. They did not ask me to post about the trip and all opinions are my own. I do not currently use any Roche diabetes products, nor were we given any free diabetes products from Roche.