Category Archives: friends for life

Do They Know What They Are Missing?

I was again honored to be a part of the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Vancouver Conference this past weekend.  As a member of the faculty, I enjoy interacting with the many families who attend the conference, chat with some of the vendors and learn from the other staff and faculty whom attend.  It is an amazing experience. 

Over the past few years I have been a little discouraged at the lack of support from Canadian vendors.  Each year that I attend, I hope to gain some insight into which insulin pump I should chose for my son. His warranty will soon be up and what better place to learn about pumps then at a diabetes conference?  

Last year, when the conference was in Toronto, one of the major pump companies was obviously missing. I was quite disappointed because I had decided that I wanted to seriously look at their CGM integration. A few other companies also seemed to be missing but the event was still a great success. 

This year, when looking at technology, the pickings were even slimmer.  There were only two pump companies to chose from.  There was only one glucometer company to check out.  There were no insulin companies showing us the new directions that insulin and other hormones are headed in.  There were no sweetener booths showing us the awesome ways that better tasting alternatives to sugar could be used. 

There were some great companies present.  Children could decorate OmniPods.  Everyone loved dressing up and having their picture taken at the One Touch booth.  There were new gaming apps on display by an innovative company called ayogo as well as booths from Store a Tooth, MyCareConnect, Dex4, CDA, JDRF and more.  

At the beginning of the event, I was really disappointed by the poor Canadian corporate support to families living with diabetes.  Why were we not important? Did they feel that they were already reaching us through social media and did not need to be “seen” at such an event? 

As the event came to a close, my perspective changed dramatically.  I am sure that Jeff Hitchcock, Laura Billetdeaux and the other CWD staff experience this all of the time, but it was a bit novel for me.  I had vendors coming up to me as we were leaving thanking me (I spend a lot of time directing people from the registration booth so they have seen me a few times)! They were grateful to have been a part of such a special weekend.  They were honored (as I always am) to be involved in something that touches so many.  


I am not sure why the “other guys” don’t think that they need to attend CWD Canada events.  I know that they are truly missing out!  These events do more than bring families together and connect kids with new friends who also have diabetes–they create friends for life.  They create memories.  They inspire. They touch our hearts like nothing else can.  

Imaginary Friends? No they are Family!

Yesterday, I opened up my Facebook account and saw a friend sharing an article from Kerri Sparling, of Six Until Me .  Kerri was discussing “Those Online People” and shared a conversation she had over a coffee.  It was about whether the connections made online were “real” friendships or not.

About 10 years ago, I ventured into the world of the Internet.  I ran across a website aptly named www.childrenwithdiabetes.com .  They had a support list for parents of children with diabetes.  I signed up and immediately was in a world where people got it, they lived it, and they understood how I felt. I was no longer alone. They had answers to my questions or at least a shoulder to lean on through the tough times.  Their support has never waivered after all of these years.

In the beginning, when I spoke of these people, I didn’t know how to refer to them.  They were my online support group.  They were people that I had not met and yet they were people that I spoke with on a daily basis.  I wondered how others would react if I called them “friends” but they were more than that so to not call them friends seemed to devalue them. 

Over time, I realized that they were not my “online friends”.  They were not my i”maginary friends” as others who were struggling with the same concept would often say.  These people had become my family.  They were there in my darkest hours.  They were there on the sunniest of days.  There were disagreements.  There were victories shared.  We watched each other’s children grow.  We shared in the milestones of all of our children with diabetes and without. We laughed with each other and we cried.  We were there for each other through funerals, divorces and marriages. 

After a period of years, I was able to begin to put faces and voices to many of the members of my diabetes family.  We traveled to various locations and were invited into the homes of these great people.  We went to conferences and expanded our relationships. 

I was recently asked why I go to the Friends for Life conferences.  It was suggested that they were boring and not necessarily worth the money.  I was shocked to the core that someone could think such a thing but then I realized that they had not walked were we had.  They did not understand that FFL conferences were not just about learning–they have amazing speakers and interactive sessions that always allow me to take home something new.  These conferences are a family reunion.

Its as much about learning from the amazing array of speakers that they have as it is about catching up with old friends.  I enjoy having a glass of wine with the friends who have helped to get me this far in life.  I like chatting and catching up with the people who were there for me when things were going wrong and I wanted to just hide under a rock and call it done.  I love seeing the children who were only babies when we first “met” and have grown to be amazing, inspirational young adults.

The diabetes online community has brought together some incredible people.  Together we have somehow managed to bring out the very best in one another and create some amazing changes in the world of diabetes. 

I hate diabetes and like everyone else, long for a cure.  I love the family that diabetes has brought to us however.  Their warmth, their kindness, and their unwavering support truly make them “Friends for Life” or as I have said before, my diabetes Family. 

A stroll down memory lane

It must be spring.  There is still snow flying around outside and my winter boots were on my feet today but I have noticed a restlessness in the air.  I was reading a blog in which the author felt that maybe she was not doing enough in the diabetes community despite raising awareness and entertaining many of us. 

I have had that same feeling in the pit of my stomach.  That question of what are you doing and more importantly–how do you do it better?  I have yet to have any great epiphanies but it did motivate me to start a new project. I decided to “tweak” my website. I am seriously thinking about completely rebuilding and cleaning up the current format.  I found a search engine to make looking through the site that much easier but I still have to decide what my spring website look should be.  In the meantime, I decided that a movie of some of our greatest memories would be in order for the home page

I began a journey back in time as I looked through old photos.  I truly hate Diabetes with a capital H but the warm memories I found in the pictures really helped to ease the pain. I found pictures of a trip we went on to New York.  Many of our online diabetes friends got together and we had a fabulous day at the beach.  There was no awkward time of getting to know one another.  We instantly had known each other for years and the day was amazing.  

I found pictures of our trip across Canada.  Again, there were photos of the many friends we met along our travels.  There was a barbeque in Ottawa, a night in the interior of B.C.  as well as introducing Rufus, the bear with diabetes, to many of our family members. 

As I dug around, I found the photos of our trip to Friends for Life in Florida.  I remember again, sitting down to drinks with “old” friends and having my son disappear with his pals to enjoy his vacation.  There was basketball and Disney World rides for him.  There was pump failure and great contacts for my other son and I.  We found out that the best place in the world to have a pump malfunction was at a CWD Friends for Life conference.  The friends and resources you will find are second to none!

I came across pictures from our Friends for Life Canada conferences and began to look forward to reconnecting with old friends again this summer.  There were walk photos and I remained amazed at the generosity and enthusiasm of so many amazing people.

I still don’t know how I will tweak the site.  I still am working on getting the movie completed and online.  I have however had a day filled with smiles and wonderful memories.  Thanks to all of the great people in our lives who helped create these memories and so many more!

CWD Nostalgia

The sun is shining this morning and despite the cloud cover the temperature has already reached above 20C (76F) and its not even 8am.  The house is quiet.  I am letting the males of the household get some much deserved rest after working hard all week and the dogs? Well they are flaked out on the deck enjoying the light breeze that Mother Nature is providing them so far.

The chaos of merging two homes into our one new home is slowly fading although I still can’t remember where I have decided to place many of our things but it will come with time.  Right now I am choosing to simply enjoy the silence and the peace.  My office is currently my laptop on the kitchen table.  Far from ideal but the view of the backyard makes it a sacrifice I can handle until my fiance and I get my real space ready.

As I sat down and booted up this morning, I of course checked out the Facebook world to see what was happening.  The bulk of my Facebook friends tend to be people with diabetes or families of someone with diabetes.  Diabetes is obviously a big part of my life and I have met many people and made some incredible friends because of this horrible disease.

Today I was treated to many great new pictures. I love getting the chance to “see” so many family and friends and glimpse into their lives as I give them the chance to glimpse into the chaos and wonder we call our life. This morning brought on much nostalgia and excitement. For those of you who don’t know, www.childrenwithdiabetes.com has just finished up another amazing conference for families with diabetes in Orlando.  It was a wonderful idea that came together out of friends wanting to vacation together and now…well its an experience that I would recommend to anyone. I am hoping to go back one day soon but until then I love seeing all of my amazing friends in these great pictures and remember back to when we joined them.

Jeff Hitchcock and Michelle Rago are amazing with a camera.  They capture the very essence of people.  They capture innocence, fun and the amazing friendships that this community has created. I have said it time and time again, I truly don’t know what I would have done for all of these years without so many of these people.  I am blessed to have found a group of friends who have been there for the diabetes crisis’s, for the days when I just don’t want to do this any more, and for the celebrations that only people with diabetes can understand.  They have encouraged me.  We have laughed together and we have shared tears.  It is amazing what the Internet and some amazing people coming together can create.

Now as I said, I wistfully look back at the Florida Conference and long to sit beside the lake with friends like Stacey, Lauren, Michelle, Joanne, Rita, Julia, and more but once again I also have another CWD event to begin to get excited about.  I have been very lucky to have been a part of the Canadian CWD conferences since their inception.  I get to go and hang out with some wonderful friends.  I reconnect with my rock, Laura and so many more. Through these conferences, I have also been able to put faces to some of my fabulous Canadian friends. I look forward to seeing so many of them again and watching their children grow. 

This year will be a shock for my Canadian friends because my children will actually be with me! I know, who would go to a CWD conference and leave their kids behind? Me! The first year they had already been to FFL in Florida and spent time with their father instead.  The next time was during school so they stayed behind once again but this year? Well, its in Vancouver which is where I am from so I am booking flights, packing up the entire family, doing some visiting with one family before we all get together to enjoy learning and fun with our other family!

Its amazing how people who are spread so far away can become so important to your life. I love gatherings like these as well as the small, more informal gatherings we have been a part of.  I look forward to each time I get to get together with my diabetes family and just hang out, be ourselves and know that we all “get it”.  To know that we are all fighting the same fight.

See you all soon!