Hey. Heather Gabel here, and I am writing to tell you that we have a shared story.
I was diagnosed when I was eleven and I went years feeling like no one could understand what I went through on a daily basis. I struggled so much because I didn’t know where to look for the kind of emotional support that only someone who shares your story can provide. I was stuck in this place where I felt like I couldn’t help myself.
When I left my parents (and safety net) for college, I started to wonder what other people with diabetes might think about getting together to dish about how awful it can be to feel misunderstood. Like many other people with diabetes (PWD), I did a little research. I found TuDiabetes and my curiosity spiked higher. People were meeting online everyday to talk about the ups and downs of life with D. THEN…. I came across all of these blogs, these diabetes blogs, written by real people who were living with diabetes, just like me. I was reading my stories, my feelings, only they were written by other people. People I didn’t know. People, I wanted to know. I started to question why we all shared the same awful stories. Why did most of us feel alone, lost, and like we couldn’t “control” our own diabetes during youth?
So, fast forward. I was in my senior year of college when I heard about an opportunity to “actualize” a vision project. That was when the ideas and philosophy behind Beta Connect really started brewing. What if I could find a way to change the circumstances for others who were struggling during adolescence? What if I could use my past and struggle to do good? What if I could help transform the shared story to a more positive one?
From that curiosity, Beta Connect was born.
I started finding young adult leaders in the Bay Area CA, who felt the same way. All of them looking for an outlet, looking for a way to transform healthcare to make it better.
Sarah Afzal, the now President of Beta Connect, flew into the picture right after I began the collaboration discussion with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Her story of diagnosis is very unique and different than anyone I have ever heard. However, she had that same drive. She wanted to impact the lives of youth living with diabetes. With Sarah’s talent and overall awesomeness, the first Insulliance program launched at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland in March of 2013.
Since then, we have been developing and strengthening the concepts, philosophy, and structure of Insulliance. Now, we are riding the wave of innovation and looking to bring Insulliance to other healthcare centers and hospitals.
There is great power in community, in mentorship, and in positive language. We aim to bring the self and diabetes together through mentorship.
There is a movement toward patient empowerment happening in diabetes healthcare. Be at the forefront of innovation by bringing a Beta Connect program, like Insulliance, to your institution.