Sometimes it’s hard to believe I haven’t always known Susan Weiner. For the last two years, she has been such an illuminating presence in my life. Connected by Anna Norton of the DiabetesSisters, what started as a professional union transformed almost instantly into a beautiful friendship. Anyone who knows her understands what a positive, energetic force Susan is. Her passion for the work that she does is overwhelmingly evident and her influence on the trajectory of my own personal future has been quite strong.
I had originally known of Susan through her involvement with the DiabetesSisters, as well as through her fabulous books on diabetes tips and organization, and admired her dedication from afar. When I was asked of my interest in helping Susan professionally, I could hardly believe that I was the one receiving the opportunity to assist her with various projects and assignments. Since developing a connection, I have relied on Susan’s advice and guidance for things diabetes-related and beyond. For me, Susan is like a mother, sister, friend, and teacher all rolled into one. I appreciate the special interest she takes in my happiness, balance, and overall well-being. It doesn’t hurt that she LOVES dogs as much as I do, too!
I especially love that Susan is someone who takes pride in her partnerships and relationships with other organizations, as she has served as a member of advisory boards for not-for-profits like Divabetic, Marjorie’s Fund, the BETES, We Are Diabetes, and of course, the DiabetesSisters! Seeing the powerful impact of her sphere of influence makes me want to hit the ground running and never look back! I can only hope that one day I will create the opportunity to be as effective as Susan is in my pursuits as a leader and overall community contributor. I appreciate that she has involved me with the projects and presentations surrounding diabulimia – something that has further fueled my confidence as an advocate. I find it incredibly important that health care providers align themselves with someone to better understand the patient perspective and it makes me feel purposeful to be an ally of Susan when it comes to the subject of diabetes and eating disorders. Her interest in helping to foster the growth of my voice and presence within the community gives me much to be thankful for!
The diabetes world has been Susan’s focus for over 28 years and her work with patients, families, health care providers, and community leaders is truly inspiring. Her background as a Registered Dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and Certified Diabetes Educator has made her a valuable resource within the diabetes sphere – one that I have taken full advantage of! A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with gastric ulcers (a result of escalating issues due to severe gastroparesis flare ups). After leaving the office of my endocrinologist and diabetes team, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with what I felt was a lack of knowledge and compassion for my unique situation, Susan was the first person I called. In a matter of moments my mind was at ease and with a simple reminder to take a deep breath, the reassurance she delivered was simple yet powerful. I finally felt like I had someone I could trust on both an intellectual and emotional level. I think that’s something that sets Susan apart from many others within the health care field. Having a reliable, confident resource is crucial to success and words cannot express how comforting it is knowing that she is only ever a text, call, or email away.
I recently asked Susan why her life and career went in the direction of diabetes – since Susan herself is not a Type 1. I always assumed it was a family connection, and though Susan does have many relatives who have been diagnosed over the years, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of her childhood friend, Darcy, who she had met at swimming lessons when they were five years old. Darcy had Type 1 diabetes and a very overprotective mother who always requested that Susan come to their house instead of the other way around. Despite losing touch as teens, Susan never forgot the bravery of her young friend who had to deal with and go through so much. It was Darcy who first inspired Susan to become the helping healer that she is and the memory of their friendship is something that Susan carries with her to this day.
It makes me so happy to know her efforts to improve the lives of people living with diabetes have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, Susan was named the AADE Diabetes Educator of the Year. What a wonderful achievement! The following spring, I had the pleasure of attending the DRI’s 2016 DREAMS in the City gala where Susan was honored with the Dare to Dream award for her incredible contributions to the diabetes community. Seeing her speak that night to an audience captivated by her presence, she implored the need for each one of us to “do more for the cure” and since that night this is an idea I’ve adopted as one of my internal daily mantras.
The day Susan came into my life, there was a shift. Though my involvement in recent years has put me in the presence of SO many incredible women in the diabetes world, meeting Susan felt like finally finding my teacher, my mentor, my Yoda! Perhaps Paulo Coelho said it best, “What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.” That is precisely what this woman has done for me. By way of example, she has shown me what it looks like to be a strong, passionate leader and through this process has given me the reassurance and encouragement I need to fulfill my own destiny and desires in this life.
To learn more about Susan, visit her website www.SusanWeinerNutrition.com!