My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes is a heartfelt and inside view of 24 women's lives. Women, who have each found a way to successfully manage a career and/or their family and their diabetes.
The book's publication is the successful accomplishment of clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, Dr. Beverly S. Adler, who has had type 1 diabetes for 36 years. Adler followed a personal conviction to bring these stories of inspiration and triumph -- and often times hard work, self-reflection and resolve -- to light.
Here follows my fourth "Book View," a short interview with an author about a book that offers an intriguing proposition.
Q: You spent a year pursuing a publisher. Why was it important to you to get this book published?
Beverly Adler: Because I always felt I would have appreciated having a book like this, a source of inspiration and something that validated my feelings, when I was diagnosed and through the years. As my fellow clinical psychologist, Dr. Wendy Satin-Rapaport, said this book is like have a support group around you."
Q: Reading the stories of your 23 fellow contributing authors, did you see commonalities among these successful women?
BA: I did, and what amazed me was how many of their stories sounded similar to my own. Depending on the woman's age of onset, many women experienced the "Why me?" syndrome. They pondered why they were "chosen" to have diabetes. Over time, however, they came to the conclusion, "Why not me?," and each was able in some way to accept her diagnosis.
Q: Was there anything else these women's stories had in common?
BA: I noticed most of the women had a "pivotal" moment when they were able to change their attitude about diabetes from negative to positive. That then changed their actions in the direction of achieving better health. The women were able to recognize that diabetes is just a part of who they are like having green eyes or being left-handed. And many realized, while it may have felt like they were alone, they actually had the support of their family and friends.
Q: What stands in most women's way of being successful in their lives and/or with their diabetes management?
BA: I can tell you what I see in my private practice. Many women feel so hopeless and overwhelmed by their diabetes that they give up before they even try. Many women, for instance, need to make healthier food choices, but they've already experienced failure dieting and their past negative experiences paralyze them from making positive changes. Usually it takes a scare like the start of retinopathy in their eyes or neuropathy in their feet to shake them up enough to redouble their efforts.
Q: Most, if not all the women's stories in the book, refer in some way to diabetes as a 'blessing in disguise'
BA: Yes, and that's very much how I see it. Shortly after my diagnosis in college I realized that diabetes wasn't fatal so I felt relieved. Today, thanks to diabetes, I take good care of myself. Thanks to diabetes I have a successful career focused on helping others with diabetes.
Q: Is there an innate characteristic that enables people to see diabetes as a 'blessing in disguise'?
BA: I think it requires being able to look at life from the perspective that everything happens for a reason although we may not understand the reason why things happen as they do.
Q: What do you hope the book will accomplish?
BA: I hope any woman with diabetes will be able to relate to the women in these chapters and be able to use these successful women as role models in their lives, whether they are struggling with family, career or managing their diabetes. Each woman in the book shares a very intimate story about where she started and how she arrived at where she is in her life, her "lessons learned" and how she kept going and got where she is today. For all of us, our shared stories are inspirational.
I also worked hard getting this book published so that health care providers will get a better understanding of what it's really like to live with diabetes. I hope they will also share the book with their patients as a source of inspiration.
Q: What ultimate message do you want readers to take away?
BA: None of us are perfect, but we can all do the best that we can do, and we don't have to let diabetes control us, we can manage it. All the negative expectations that I was given when I was first diagnosed have proven to not be true. We can live long and healthy lives, we can have healthy children, we can have successful businesses, travel and participate in whatever activity we choose. Nothing -- especially diabetes -- has to hold us back from being the person that we want to be.
Nuggets from a few contributing authors
"It's been 25 years since my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and life is still built on quicksand. You never know what the next day will bring, for better or for worse, but living with diabetes has helped shape my perspective and I'm more appreciative of the joys I do have. Like my daughter, husband, and a job that I love. Being successful to me is feeling happy. I feel very, very successful." -- Kerri Sparling, Diabetes Writer and Patient Advocate at SixUntilMe, 25 years with type 1 diabetes.
"I am 71 years old and a few years ago after being told it wouldn't work I invented a product called WarmFeet® that has helped people with diabetes improve blood flow to their feet. I don't take "No, you can't" for an answer, not in my professional work or my diabetes care." -- Birgitta Rice, Researcher and Educator at the University of Minnesota, Pharmacist, 52 years with diabetes
"Returning from a military tour performing for our troops in Afghanistan, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Until then, as an L.A. based professional dancer, I was living my dream. Now, my vibrant, confident self was being stripped away by a threatening and tedious "condition." My therapy was to create something helpful for myself and others. So, frustrated by all the depressing, standard-issue diabetes tools and supplies, I started a business of fashionable diabetes accessories. My business has helped me take control of my health and rejuvenated my spirit." -- Kyrra Richards, Entrepreneur, Myabetic, 4 years with diabetes
"The secret to my success as a woman who has lived with diabetes and survived breast cancer twice, is my quest for knowledge and willingness to take action. When I found out I had diabetes, I hired a cycling coach and we formed a team with my endocrinologist. That collaboration became Team WILD. At 39 I found out I had breast cancer. Doing athletic events as a cancer survivor, I realized that we needed something similar for diabetes so I founded the "Red Riders" which is now used by the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure bike rides! -- Mari Ruddy, Team WILD, two-time breast cancer survivor, endurance athlete, 30 years with type 1 diabetes
Most of the contributing authors have type 1 diabetes, however, their stories inspire no matter what type of diabetes you have, or even what chronic condition you may live with. These are stories about women who encountered an obstacle and climbed the mountain.
Whether you are newly diagnosed or a veteran you'll find hard-earned wisdom and 24 different routes to the same place: a successful life and making peace with diabetes.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated on behalf of the author and the contributing writers to the American Diabetes Association. Currently the book is available through the publisher, PESI HealthCare, and will soon be available on Amazon.com.
In full disclosure, I am one of the featured women.
Riva is a requested speaker and the author of "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It" and "The ABC's Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes." Visit her website DiabetesStories.com.