I almost made Cherise Shockley cry. I admit it. I almost made one of the most inspirational and hardest working people in the DOC cry after telling her how inspiring her story is. But Cherise says that’s natural – she’s just an emotional person. I love that about her. I think that’s one of the reasons she has transformed a simple idea around her Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) chats on Twitter into something incredibly popular. It’s also why she started the Blue Fridays initiative during diabetes awareness month (a.k.a. American Diabetes Month).
Cherise founded DSMA and helped grow it into a popular weekly Twitter chat on Wednesday nights that has become a can’t-miss event for those in the diabetes online community. She now has the DSMA Live podcast each Thursday night too, featuring co-hosts George Simmons, Scott K. Johnson and guests from the diabetes community (rumor has it I may make a guest appearance soon). Last year, she also launched Blue Fridays to encourage people to wear blue each Friday in November in support of diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day. Read more about Cherise’s story…
Q: Let’s start by talking about you. Can you tell me about your diabetes diagnosis and how it impacted your life?
I was diagnosed in June of 2004. My husband was in Iraq. I had a medical condition I couldn’t get rid of. The nurse practitioner asked if I was pregnant or if I was on any antibiotics. I said no. She asked if I had recently lost weight. I said I had lost 10-15 pounds. She asked if I had to use the bathroom a lot and I said that I had been getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. So, she tested my blood sugar and the meter read over 300. I freaked out a little bit. I thought, diabetes, where did this come from?
Q: What type of diabetes were you diagnosed with?
I was diagnosed with LADA, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adult. Thankfully, I wasn’t misdiagnosed. The nurse practitioner knew in which direction to go. Initially she sent me to the endocrinologist. When I walked into his office he said, “I already know what you are, you’re a type 1.5.” He explained to me what that type was. He said some health care professionals don’t recognize LADA. Just because of the age bracket, I think some people get misdiagnosed with type 2.
I’m not overweight, I’m physically fit, and I don’t have a family history of type 1 diabetes. They did the test and saw that I had antibodies for type 1. He said it was probably triggered by stress or an illness. My husband was in Iraq, so I sometimes wonder if that brought it on faster. So when I was diagnosed I researched as much as I could. The American Diabetes Association didn’t have any information about LADA. Health care professionals didn’t have information about LADA. That’s why I set out to do what I do – to say “I have LADA and let’s raise awareness!”
Q: Do you remember how you found the DOC?
Three and a half years ago, my physician switched my treatment from oral to insulin, I knew it was time for insulin, but I also knew I didn’t want to give myself 6-7 shots per day. I knew I wanted a particular insulin pump, so I did some research to find out more information and I came across TuDiabetes. It’s the only community I found that mentioned anything about LADA.
Q: So what led to the creation of DSMA?
The inspiration for DSMA came from Dana Lewis, the moderator of the Healthcare Communication Social Media chat (#hcsm). During one of the #hcsm chats-I had an a-ha moment. I wanted to maximize Twitter to help answer questions, spread awareness, connect people living with diabetes and to discuss everyday issues.
Q: What about Blue Fridays? How did they get started?
Blue Fridays are a way for people to participate and recognize World Diabetes Day and diabetes awareness month. People can come up to you and ask, ‘Why do you have this color on?’ The first answer is for World Diabetes Day and diabetes awareness month. It’s another topic of conversation to bring up, and let them know that World Diabetes Day and diabetes awareness month do exist. The thing about diabetes is that I get in my own little world. With DSMA last year, l learned it’s so much bigger than me or my blog. Diabetes is a global issue, not just a national issue. So I decided to ask everyone in the diabetes community to wear blue every Friday during the month of November. Blue Fridays is an initiative to connect the global diabetes community.
The idea was to throw it out there to see if it would stick. My mind constantly goes over and over things I can do. Ideas we have take a few months to develop. It takes time for me and the DSMA Advisory Board to put them in place. If I can help other people create awareness, then why not?
Cherise can rest assured that her efforts have stuck with me and with others. She has become a vital member of the DOC and an inspiration for a lot of people. I encourage you to check out a DSMA chat or DSMA Live. I also encourage you to get involved in Blue Fridays. We worked closely with Cherise to create this printable flier for you to use– simply print it out and put it up at your office, your church, your school, anywhere really. I thank Cherise for her time and am eager to see everyone wearing their blue on Fridays throughout November.
All the best,
Disclosure:Cherise received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.