Kim Vlasnik believes validation and encouragement among patients can be the bridge between feeling alone and feeling empowered. She has had type 1 diabetes for 28 years and for the majority of that time, having diabetes was a lonely, isolating experience. Finding the online diabetes community changed her life - not only did it help alleviate the feeling of, “no one gets what this is like,” but it introduced her to the shared experiences that give her courage, motivation, and desire to do her best when it comes to her own health management.
Kim began writing a diabetes patient blog called Texting My Pancreas in 2010, and in 2011 she started a diabetes support project called the You Can Do This Project. Patients and their caregivers contribute user-made videos about their lives with diabetes: how they feel; where they struggle; and what they are able to achieve because and in spite of diabetes. Contributers are validating for each other that add-on experiences such as complications, depression, and guilt are not only common but also manageable. Nothing about diabetes has to be the end of the road: "If they can do this, I can do this too.”
Kim is excited about fostering hope and empowerment within the diabetes community, and that is why she works so hard to help others feel less alone. She looks forward to returning to Medicine X this year to connect with like-minded patients in other communities, and to explore how the power of peer-to-peer support can change lives for the better.