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The DX Diabetes Dish: Brandy Barnes

DiabetesSisters founder on resilience & making a difference

The DX regularly features The DX Diabetes Dish, a profile about life and life with diabetes. This month, we dish with Brandy Barnes, MSW. Barnes is the founder and CEO of DiabetesSisters, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women with and at risk for diabetes, and to advocate on their behalf. Through DiabetesSisters she leads annual conferences for women with diabetes, a network of peer diabetes support groups in the US and Canada, and many online programs to connect and educate women with diabetes. Learn more about Barnes’s mission and her story of sisterhood.  

What is your state of mind today? 

Hopeful and happy.

What three words would you use to describe who you are? 

Resilient, determined, Christian.

How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are? 

Diabetes has made me more in tune with my body. I pick up on the slightest changes very quickly.

What inspires you to do what you do? 

I want to make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes, and I want to make my daughter and husband proud.

What do you appreciate most in your friends? 

Having a true give-and-take relationship in which we both give to the relationship and we both benefit from the relationship. As I’ve gotten older, I have had to walk away from many one-way friendships for my own health.

What would you pack for your favorite vacation? 

Swimsuit, sunscreen, and a cute sundress.

What’s in your refrigerator right now? 

Grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, sport drinks, bottled water, diet Sun Dropsoda (my favorite drink!), sandwich meats, cheese, jelly (for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I eat every day), and other condiments.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress? 


What is your idea of happiness? 

Being in a place where I am surrounded by people who love me for who I am; being able to recognize that everything happens for a reason; and understanding that someone bigger than me is in control. Happiness is also when I am able to live in the moment and appreciate every moment on earth.

What do you most dislike? 

Fakeness. Pointless bickering among women.

What’s your favorite diabetes management tip? 

Never let a number define you – whether it’s the number on the scale or the number on the meter.

What words do you try to live by? 

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

What is your greatest fear?

Betrayal. (Water – or drowning, really – is also a big fear!)

What is your greatest extravagance? 

When I travel, I cannot stay in a hotel that I feel is dirty (I start thinking about bed bugs and I can’t sleep!), so I pay extra to stay in nicer hotels.

On what occasion do you lie? 

None. However, I may tone down the truth if it is going to hurt someone’s feelings (e.g. “That outfit doesn’t look horrible, it’s just not the best outfit I’ve seen on you.”).

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? 

I would have my extended family all live in the same city or at least within an hour of each other.

Who are your heroes in real life? 

My pastor, Benji Kelley, who has built one of the fastest-growing churches in the US from the ground up; Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters because they paved the way for so many women; my daughter Summer because her view of the world is so pure and innocent; and my husband Chris because he has taught me about unconditional love.

What would you choose for your last meal? 

Chicken Parmesan, unsweetened tea, salad, buttery rolls, and Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory®.

What are you looking forward to right now? 

Celebrating another holiday season with my family and closest friends. For Thanksgiving, my whole family is going to Hilton Head, SC. We always have so much fun and make great memories!

Disclosure: Brandy Barnes is a former employee of Sanofi US. (August, 2003 – April, 2010). While Brandy received no compensation for this post, she is currently under a consulting agreement with our company. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

SUN DROP is a registered trademark of Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.

© 2012 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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