People to Know 2014: Brandy Barnes
When Brandy Barnes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 15, she had one objective: prove to her peers (and herself) that diabetes would not stop her. Fast forward a decade, and Brandy has done just that.
In January 2008, she founded the nonprofit DiabetesSisters organization to provide education, support, and advocacy for women of all ages with all types of diabetes. Through this valuable resource, members can learn about health risks and prevention, find support from women who really “get” diabetes, and learn how to advocate better for themselves and others with the disease.
When I met Brandy in 2009, DiabetesSisters had a uniquely empowering and diverse online community where women shared triumphs, mistakes, accomplishments, and laughter. Since then, the membership has grown to over 10,000 people, and Brandy and her team have expanded their programs by adding the PODS (Part of DiabetesSisters) Meetup program, a conference series (see “Sisters and Friends”), and Life Class webinars.
Over the past seven years, Brandy and DiabetesSisters have changed the lives of thousands of women with diabetes by welcoming them into the haven of their sisterhood. They have created bonds that reach beyond a diabetes diagnosis, educating and supporting women through some of their most challenging life stages with diabetes: dating, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause, and more.
The organization’s mission is one I can get behind, so when Brandy and her team approached me with an opportunity to help bring the diabetes community together for a DiabetesSisters social media meetup featuring my DSMA (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) Live radio show, I could not resist. I was honored and happy to oblige.
Last year, I attended my first DiabetesSisters conference in San Francisco. I was a little nervous walking through the door, but as soon as I saw 100 women going through the same challenges as I was and talking openly about them, I felt at home. The education, information, and stories were life changing and made me realize that I need to be surrounded by “sisters”—sisters, like Brandy Barnes, who understand my diabetes and me.
Cherise Shockley was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) in 2004. She is the founder and creator of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) and conducts weekly live Twitter chats and Blog Talk Radio shows for people affected by diabetes. She’s a speaker and presenter on the topic of social media and health.