People to Know 2015: Marina Tsaplina
Most people get diagnosed with diabetes. Thanks to Marina Tsaplina, I married it. In the presence of dear friends and supporters, I recounted my 18-year journey with type 2 diabetes. Guided by a wedding officiant, I renewed my vows to exercise, eat healthy, keep my weight down, and deal with the emotional effects of my condition.
Surprisingly, it was a profoundly moving experience.
“We don’t approach diabetes like a machine, as if it’s just a numbers game,” explains Marina, founder of New York City’s The Betes Organization, which runs community education programs. “We understand that living side by side with a chronic condition creates experiences that must be understood and honored.”
And she’d know: Marina has had type 1 diabetes since age 2. She lives The Betes Organization’s core message: “Health care is a human story.” She’s a dynamo—performance artist, puppet master, and “imagineer,” all rolled into one ball of extraordinary energy. “We realized there is a deep, unmet need to build a creative space for people of all ages to engage in safe, honest dialogue around the experience of living with diabetes,” she says.
I’m grateful the organization honored me and that I was fortunate enough to have my own commitment ceremony. It provided me with the thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to share my diabetes story.
Paul Binder is the cofounder of New York’s Big Apple Circus and author of Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion: And Other Uncommon Tales From the Founder of the Big Apple Circus, a collection of hilarious life stories from Paul’s weird and wonderful life. He’s lived with type 2 diabetes for nearly two decades. Learn more about Paul’s life under the big top at diabetesforecast.org/paulbinder.