Okay, I know, a bit of schmaltz with former Ms. America, but for a good cause. I just returned from the first“Weekend for Women” event put on by Diabetes Sisters and sponsored byTCOYD. Actually, the two events dovetailed this past weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Diabetes Sisters was started just a few short years ago by Brandy Barnes, to bring women living with diabetes together and break the isolation so many of us feel.
As Brandy opened the event Saturday evening she said she couldn’t believe how quickly she was seeing her dream come true as she looked out at the 100 faces staring back at her.
For there we were: type 1s, type 2s pretty evenly divided, and all ages from early twenties to eighty. I talked with 80 year old Liza, who got type 2 diabetes three years ago and I only hope I have her vitality, and her looks, when I’m 80! Women also came from both the local area and as far away as California, Illinois, New York and Texas.
The event kicked off Saturday night with dinner, socializing and a pampering treatment: massage, nails, hair or make up.
Sunday former Ms. America and diabetes advocate, Nicole Johnson, gave a truly inspiring talk. She developed type 1 diabetes at 19 and went on, against the wishes of many around her who thought it would be too much for her, to win the Ms. Virginia and then Ms. America title.
While she is beautiful, her talk – warm, funny and personable – showed she is beautiful on the inside too. And while there was probably no other beauty contest winner in the audience, I think we could all identify with the limitations she talked about that others often put on us and that in mass we turn that around to show just how capable and remarkable each of us is.
The day continued with a host of informational lectures from keeping your heart healthy, feeding your body, mind and spirit and dealing with body image to having a healthy pregnancy and going through menopause. Sheri Colberg was our ending key note speaker and she shared from her book secrets of the longest living people with diabetes.
As much as we came together to bond, celebrate and learn, it was also inspiring for me to see what Brandy had created bringing us together, and the uncompromising support she appears to have from her beloved type 3 husband and sister.
There’s another “Weekend for Women” in the works for next year and it may even happen sooner than expected. If you’d like to participate you might want to stay current on the Diabetes Sisters web site.