Katie’s Experience at the DiabetesSisters Conference

Since 2010, DiabetesSisters has welcomed more than 750 women with diabetes to its annual Weekend for Women Conference. This signature program draws women ages 18 to 80 from across the United States and Canada to learn from each other as they share their experiences living daily with diabetes.

The next Weekend for Women Conference will be Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 in San Francisco. Building friendships with other women who understand what it’s like to juggle diabetes along with work, family and hobbies keeps past attendees returning and attracts new conference participants each year-women like Katie Mahowald, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for almost 18 years and was a first time attendee at the Weekend for Women Conference in Raleigh, N.C., this spring.

“It is almost impossible to summarize the impact attending the Weekend for Women Conference has had on my life,” Mahowald said. “If you live with diabetes you know what it means to try so hard to make this disease look easy to the world around you. Diabetes is an invisible disease and while that has its own benefits, it also means that no one sees the physical, mental, or emotion burdens you carry every day.

“Attending the conference was the first time in years where I didn’t have to put on a brave face. I didn’t have to answer, ‘Oh, I’m fine’ when someone asked, ‘How’s your diabetes going?’ I didn’t have to turn my body to the side to secretly test or take an injection. I didn’t have to feel embarrassed when my CGM or pump alarm went off. I didn’t deal with any of those things because over 100 women were gathered around me living the exact same experience.

“And the best part of it all? The confidence and support I felt during the conference has only grown stronger since returning home. Every day I connect with my ‘sisters’ on Facebook and through our blogs… When I test my blood sugar, I think of my sisters. When I pre-bolus, I think of my sisters. When I’m sad and angry about a string of high or low blood sugars, I think of my sisters. I think of my sisters and I know I’m not alone. And for the first time in a long time, I 100 percent know I can do this.”

Space is still available for the upcoming 2013 Weekend for Women San Francisco Conference, open to all women with diabetes. To register for the Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 conference weekend, visit www.diabetessisters.org/2013-weekend-women-san-francisco.

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