Sierra Sandison in the Miss America Pageant and her book cover


She wore her insulin pump in the Miss America pageant back in 2014 and Sierra Sandison continues to advocate for people with diabetes today. In this Classic episode from June 2015, you’ll hear from Sierra just as her book “Sugar Linings” is coming out.

We’ll catch up you on what Sierra is doing these days, her advocacy work and her accomplishments outside of the diabetes community.

Article from DiabetesMine about Sierra’s STEM studies & accomplishments

Sierra resigns from Beyond Type 1 


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Episode Transcription

Stacey Simms  0:00

This episode of Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Inside the Breakthrough a new history of science podcast full of Did you know stuff?


Announcer  0:13

This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.


Stacey Simms  0:19

Welcome back to the show. I always so glad to have you here. We aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with an emphasis on people who use insulin. I’m your host, Stacey Simms, and this is a classic episode which means for bringing back one of our early interviews, and this is one of the earliest my fourth episode, which originally aired in June of 2015.

Sierra Sandison  is a big name in the diabetes community. You might remember her bursting onto our TVs and appearing all over social media after she won Miss Idaho and then walked across the stage and the Miss America pageant, wearing her insulin pump. She coined the hashtag Show me your pump, which continues to get lots of mentions today got millions and millions back then.

I remember connecting with Sierra like it was yesterday, I was on vacation with my family in Isle of Palms, which is a beach near Charleston, South Carolina. We live in North Carolina, but believe it or not, the North Carolina beaches are generally further from us than the South Carolina ones. So we basically went to Iowa palms, I want to say almost every summer when the kids are growing up. And if you’ve read my book, that’s where most of the bananas beach stories happen with Benny getting sand in his inset and all that stuff that I talked about. But we were leaving, we were just about to be on our way home. And I had reached out to Sierra, I don’t remember who it was over Twitter or email, because she’d already been in the Miss America Pageant that had been the previous year. And I hadn’t I didn’t have the podcast in 2014. But she was talking about her upcoming book, Sugar Linings . And I thought this is a great chance to get her on the podcast. So I reached out and you know, had just launched I don’t even think I was on Apple and the other apps yet I had launched the podcast on my blog for the first three or four weeks. And she reached back and said yes, and I gotta tell you, I was so excited. I remember, like the dork, I am high fiving with my husband, he was excited for me. And I gotta tell you, I’m still just as excited to connect with people and hear their stories. It’s just a thrill every time somebody says yes, so I hope that never goes away. Thanks, y’all for letting me do this. I really appreciate it. And I’m gonna catch you up on what Sierra is doing today in just a moment.

But first, Diabetes Connections is supported by insight, the breakthrough and new history of science podcast. It was created by SciMar, a group of Canadian researchers dedicated to changing the way we detect, treat and even reverse type two diabetes. The latest episode is all about how unpopular science can be very good science, Galileo probably comes to mind he was not exactly popular in his day. But there are a bunch of really interesting examples that they go through on this episode. Inside the break through you can find it anywhere you listen to podcasts. And remember, this podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.

As I’m doing with these classic episodes, I reached back to the person you’re talking to, to see if there’s an update any information that they would like us to share and zero was kind enough to send me a message. This is five and a half years now after this interview you’re about to hear and more than six years after the Miss America pageant, and she said that the main thing that she’d like to get across is that she has been trying to be much more outspoken about our advocacy efforts when it comes to focusing on insulin access and affordability in recent years, and I will link up another podcast She appeared on. She has been very outspoken about this and really trying to get information out there about better ways to advocate for lower prices and better access with insulin.

She also says she is at Boise State studying mechanical engineering with minors in biomedical engineering and computer science. She was recognized as the number one student in her junior class. She’s working on starting a 3d printing company and she is set to graduate next spring, Sierra, thank you for the update. You are absolutely remarkable. And obviously she’s keeping quite busy. Here is Sierra Sandison  from July of 2015.

Thanks so much for joining me.


Sierra Sandison  4:25

No problem.


Stacey Simms  4:26

It’s great to talk to you. You have a new book, a new blog, we have a lot to talk about. Have you always been in pageants since you were a little girl?


Sierra Sandison    4:36

No, I was actually diabetes who got me in that got me into it. So at 18 I was diagnosed and throughout middle school in high school. I was bullied a lot I didn’t really fit in. I didn’t know what my identity was. I just like I just wanted to kind of disappear into the crowd. And this diabetes thing was another thing that the bullies could target and call it contagious and say it was my fault because of poor eating. How habits or lack of exercise, which weren’t even like a part of my life. So it was ridiculous. But, um, I was just this. Just another thing on top of all the rest of the stuff that was making me different, that the bullies again, could target. So I get diabetes, my parents start pressuring me into training or into getting an insulin pump. And I kept refusing because like an insulin pump is a physical like external, very visible symbol of the fact that I have diabetes and


Stacey Simms  5:28

How old were you when you were diagnosed?


Sierra Sandison    5:31

  1. So I would always like go to the bathroom to give myself shots and try to prick my finger. And, of course, that caused some problems, because I wasn’t testing or bolusing when I was supposed to. Sorry, no. So


Stacey Simms  5:45

I interrupted when you were talking about your parents wanted you to get a pump. And I asked about your age only because that’s a difficult part of life anyway. I mean, you’re transitioning, you’re trying figure out what college is going to be like, or what’s next. And here your parents think put this thing on you?


Sierra Sandison    5:57

Yeah, exactly. And especially as an adolescent female, that struggles struggled with self-esteem, it was not something I wanted to put on my body. So then, a few months later, and by this time, I was either just about to graduate, or I’d already graduated. I can’t remember. But I it was at the beginning of the summer, I heard about Nicole Johnson and the woman who directs the Miss Twin Falls pageant, which is my hometown, came up to me, and explained who she was and that her kids went to my school and she knew I had diabetes. And that she thought, I wouldn’t want to know that Miss America. 1999 also had diabetes. And I thought that was so cool. So I go and Google Nicole Johnson. And here she is this beautiful woman. And she I found out she has an insulin pump.

And up until that point, I thought that if I got an insulin pump, I would kind of disqualify me from being beautiful, because like, we are fed this definition of beauty, like we look at, we look at women on the front of magazines, and we compare, I compare myself to them. And I’m like, Well, my skin’s not that smooth, and my hair isn’t flawless like that. And this is not like this doesn’t live up to that standard. And this doesn’t live up to that standard. And none of them have an insulin pump. So therefore, that must not be beautiful. And now I see Nicole on Miss America, who has an insulin pump, and it’s just like, super awesome. So I turned to my best friend that day at school. And while I was googling Nicole Johnson in class and I was like, Brittany, I am going to go to Miss America. And I’m going to wear an insulin pump. And she was like, I don’t know what was going on in her head. She just looked at me blankly. But first of all, I didn’t know what like how to use makeup or do my hair at all. I was totally, I was awful at everything I ever tried. So it was a struggle to find a talent. I’m not coordinated, like not athletic. Just like I just sucked to everything except for math and science, which didn’t really help my popularity much. So I was just like, this dorky kind of nerdy person who always had a book and got made fun of so Britney is looking at me like, okay, like, whatever. But she was just like, what, like, the insulin pump is in like, the little machine your parents keep wanting to get and you’re like, refusing to get it. And I was like, Yeah, she didn’t. She didn’t know where it came from. So then I go home and tell my parents, and they were like being the pageant like, Okay, if it’s gonna get you an insulin pump, we’ll get you an insert or like, we’ll let you do the pageant and pay for this stuff. So Wow. So I compete in my first pageant. And guess what happened?


Stacey Simms  8:37

You won.

I lost.

So you lost, but that was not what I expected.


Sierra Sandison    8:42

Yeah, so I lost, which was discouraging, but I didn’t give up yet. I go to this other little pageant. So I competed Emma’s Twin Falls, which is my hometown, but there’s also these other little pageants in the state that anyone from the entire state can compete in. So I went to this pageant that was open. That’s what it’s called when it’s like, open to everyone. And there’s four other girls were at Miss magic Valley. There’s like 20 girls, for Miss Twin Falls, there’s like 20 girls. And at that pageant, I won. So I was qualified to go to miss Idaho, and I was so excited. I was like, that was easy. Like, now I just have to win was Idaho, and I will go to Miss America.

And so I show up at Miss Idaho, and there’s 18 girls and the way Miss Idaho works is that Friday night, everyone competes. And then Saturday night, they read off the top 10 or top 11 and those girls compete again. So this year, they did a top 11 even though there’s 18 girls, because I think they announced that they were going to do a top 11 before they know knew how many girls were competing. So Saturday night comes around and they read off the top 11 and I’m standing in the back with the bottom seven and it was so devastating because I at least if I didn’t win, I at least wanted to make the top 11 and knock eliminated right away.

So I got really sad and Brittany was like, Okay, how about this? How about you were your insulin pump wall like solving calculus problems, and inspire little kids that way? No, Brittany, I’m gonna wear my insulin pump on stage. But at this point, I kind of was giving up on the whole Miss America idea, which kind of made me like sad, but I realized that everyone in the audience would hopefully have I think everyone, everyone in general has an insecurity. Like I had my insulin pump and insecurity that makes them different that they sometimes want to hide and I really wanted to encourage them to not only like not hide it and tolerate it, but also to love it and celebrate it because it makes them unique.


Stacey Simms  10:46

So how many Miss Idaho pageants did you enter before the one we all saw?


Sierra Sandison    10:51

Yeah, so Okay, so I go home, and I compete for missed one falls. And this time, there’s like, a gazillion girls, but I win it. And that was a little encouraging, because I just won like one of the hardest pageants in the state. So I, that’s a, it’s a whole, that pageant takes place, like a week after Miss Idaho. So I had an entire year until the next beside Whoa, I worked really hard, like, really, really hard. And I won’t go into detail. But that’s what made the difference between year one and year two, and I get to it,


Stacey Simms  11:20

I understand you don’t want to do it. What are your work on? Is it just your is it just getting in great physical shape? Is it more to it?


Sierra Sandison    11:26

So that’s part of it. But um, mostly it’s really finding yourself and knowing what you believe. So when you go into interview, any question that’s thrown at you, because you know yourself so well, like, you can answer it. And so I went to Okay, let’s see, in December, Miss Miss Idaho, who was who won when I didn’t make the top 11 challenged all of the local title holders to a new year’s resolution. And I was about to go backpack through Europe for five months alone, which is a self discovery journey in itself. But I everyone was doing like, I’m going to work out more, and I’m going to eat less candy or something. And I was like, I’m not going to give up carbs. Exercising in Italy, like are you crazy. So I knew that we couldn’t be fitness based. So I decided to read one book a month, which I’ve actually kept up to this day. And it’s just taught me so much. But and then of course, we have the Europe thing. And like traveling in Europe alone for a long time. Just to traveling just teaches you a lot. So that’s what I changed.

So I get back to miss Idaho. And I really, I bow so I decided to wear my pump on stage. This is the first time I’ll ever wear on stage because I hadn’t more I will only wanted to work at Miss America where I could explain my story on TV into the media stations beforehand. And everyone would understand what the insulin pump was as well as my message. So I’m beside Whoa, there’s a small audience. There’s no type one diabetics watching. And I can’t go out on stage and be like, Hey, everyone, like this is my insulin pump. And my message is for you to love the things that make you different. Okay, bye. Let’s get on the show like that. So I get to miss Idaho in my pump, I put my pump on my pants. In that day, it just looked so much bigger than normal is like when I got a zit on my forehead and it looks like I’m so I’m trying to talk myself into wearing the pump and I’m, like freaking out. And finally I calmed down and I’m like, no one’s gonna notice no one’s gonna notice. So


Stacey Simms  13:27

why did you Why did you wear it on stage? And what was it like, just before you walked out? If that wasn’t the plan, what happened that you said, All right, I got to do it.


Sierra Sandison    13:35

Um, so I didn’t think I was ever going to go to Miss America because of the not making top 11 thing so but I really I got into pageants to where my pump on stage. And I wasn’t going to give that up. Even though it wasn’t the Miss America stage in front of millions of people on national television. I still wanted to know that I had the courage to do it. Um, so I walked out of the dressing room. And this little girl’s staring at me and I met this in this like really self-conscious state like, no one look at my insulin pump, please. And the first thing she blurts out is like, hey, what is that she points to my insulin pump. And my heart sinks and I get really angry at the same time when I go back to the dressing room to kind of rip off the pump. And she’s and she follows me and she explains that she’s diabetic as well. And we get into the conversation about diabetes. And I end up asking her What kind of insulin pump she wears. And it ended up that she didn’t have an insulin pump because she was really scared of what her friends would say. So at this point, I was like, I don’t care what the judges think. I don’t care what the audience thinks I’m gonna go where my insulin pump for this little girl and so that weekend I ended up winning and her mom came up to me and are her McCall is a little girl and her mom came up to me and Nicole was like, I’m getting an insulin pump. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. And then her mom after McCall ran off to tell some other friends how excited she was. Her mom came up to me crying because she’s so excited that like she never thought her daughter would get an insulin pump agree to it. let alone be jumping up and down excited and confident about it. So that was probably the best. And then, of course, from there, I went to Miss America and made tough teen and yeah, yeah, there’s


Stacey Simms  15:10

a lot more to talk about. Yeah, I have to ask you, though, it’s just so inspiring to hear. But when you walked on stage, and you’ve been in pageants for a couple of years, harder to wear the pump, or harder to wear that bikini, because Wow, did you look gorgeous? Oh, my gosh, that was so hard.


Sierra Sandison    15:28

I actually have I so I, I work out a lot. And I like, I do CrossFit all the time. And I competed not now Geez, not now. But I competed in, like, power competitive powerlifting, or I guess that’s redundant powerlifting competitions. So I was used to like being in like one piece, or just a sports bra and shorts. So that’s like being in the bikini, scary for a lot of people. But it really wasn’t that big of a deal for me until I put the pump on. So when did you realize that the pump


Stacey Simms  15:59

and the pageant was becoming an actual movement, you know, that people were responding so strong.


Sierra Sandison    16:06

Um, so I posted the picture online. And I kind of, I don’t know, if some girl a lot of girls tried to start social media campaigns for their platform, and they just kind of flop because no one’s really interested in them, if you know what I mean. So I was really scared that no one would like, like my message or because some people were telling me like, like fighting the beauty standards is stupid. And it’s a stupid cause. But it’s something I’m really passionate about. Because when I see someone like loving who they are, even though they don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel, it really like encourages me to love myself. And so I really wanted to encourage that. But I also didn’t think that anyone would take the time to take a selfie with their insulin pump. I don’t think I would, I don’t know. I just like, so I posted it. And then I went on with my day. And I got back to my phone. And it had like 1000s of likes, and 1000s of shares. And I went on Instagram, and people had been posting like crazy. And it was like it was incredible. So I think that like the same day or maybe the next day, I realized it was going crazy. It was awesome.


Stacey Simms  17:15

Do you have any numbers? Or do you know how the hashtag Show me your pump? How far or wide that went? I mean, I know you were on the Today Show. And good morning, American NPR picked it up?


Sierra Sandison    17:24

Yeah, I think so we, we did the math on the hits. And like number of viewers on all the TV shows and all the articles that were written. And we think my story reached about like five to 7 million people. And then as regard in regards to how many pictures were posted, you can’t count those on Twitter, or Facebook. But on Instagram, there’s almost 6000 today.


Stacey Simms  17:50

So the social media campaign is going on in the time between Miss Idaho leading up to Miss America. Was it difficult to balance getting ready for the pageant in September of last year, when you were also being asked to be a guest on national shows and little kids are coming up to you? What was that like?


Sierra Sandison    18:06

That was insanity. So I was actually the last girl. And out of all 50 states, I was the very last person crowned. So I had only eight weeks to get ready for Miss America, which is an insanely short amount of time. So I was super stressed. I was up like, from 8am to like, probably 1am. And it was just it was insane. And then you add all the interviews on top of it. And it was so overwhelming. But in the end, I think it actually helped because I was practicing interviews part of Miss America. And obviously, when I got to Miss America, the judges already knew about Show me your pump. And it was a big topic of conversation in the interview. And I had talked about it so much that I didn’t have to stumble over my words, I knew what I wanted to say, etc. So having all those interviews with the media, which there could, there was like five, there could have been like five to 10 a day. Having all those interviews actually helped me prepare a little more even though it was a little hectic.


Stacey Simms  19:06

Okay, so you won the People’s Choice Award in the Miss America Pageant. How do you find that out? Is that in a live on stage thing? Yes. So


Sierra Sandison    19:12

I just find it out when like live TV, I find it out as soon as you guys in the audience and across the nation do so that was what was that like it was I think I knew that I kind of had a chance. And in the past, I’ve tried to predict like the Miss America winters at home. And the way you predict the People’s Choice person is by looking at the YouTube views and I was not winning in YouTube views on the People’s Choice videos. So I was kind of stressing about that. And I really just I really wanted to wear my insulin pump on stage in my swimsuit. And that’s all I wanted to do. I just was like make it to the top of team and then you can eliminate me Please give me People’s Choice, please. And at the last minute I think Miss New Mexico had just like a rush of votes and my heart just like


Sierra Sandison    19:59

it’s New Mexico.


Sierra Sandison    20:01

Yeah, my roommate and like one of my best friends. But I was like, No, like, this can’t happen. So when they called my name, and I don’t know, I’m used to like losing things in high school like being the last one picked for dodgeball team making, not making like even the JV team for basketball. So I was like, it’s not gonna be me like, I’m used to this. And then he said, and you’re the winner is Miss Idaho. And that’s all after that moment. That’s all I remember. Everything else is a blur. I think I fell down to the ground. And like, I don’t even remember, his


Stacey Simms  20:33

pictures are pretty amazing. It’s a wonderful reaction. I love it.


Sierra Sandison    20:36

So So what happened for you when you did go on stage? Oh, my gosh, that was the most amazing feeling because I know like, it just seems I don’t know how to explain the stage like especially the same was with Dr. Oz, like the Dr. Oz studio was so like, exactly like it was on TV exactly like it is on TV in the Miss America stage is exactly what it is on TV. Except I can also see like, the tent, like the audience of 10,000 in this gigantic, gigantic room that’s like a football stadium. So it was it was thrilling. And I just couldn’t believe that I finally, like I reached my goal. And it was coming true right there. And I don’t know, it was awesome. Fabulous.


Stacey Simms  21:19

It’s really is a remarkable story. I’m so glad to share you what is next for you, you have a new book out, you have a new blog you’re launching, tell us what this is.


Sierra Sandison    21:28

Yes, I’m so excited. So I’ve had this idea for a while. And like, finally, my friend was like, do it. And I don’t know, all authors are a little self conscious about getting your ideas out there, because who’s gonna read it, like, Who cares what I have to say, so my best like one of my, I call her my diet bestie one of my diet besties Hadley, George was just like, you need to write it. So I sat down in Cincinnati, probably in February and started writing. And I’ve been, like, just rapidly writing way since then. But it’s called Sugar Linings , finding the bright side of type 1 diabetes.

And for me, diabetes has been a huge blessing, obviously, because of Miss America and all the opportunities it’s brought me but I there’s also things I also thought that before I really succeeded in pageants. So the other things I talked about, besides my own personal story are Sugar Linings  that apply to everyone’s life, not just inside the house. So I talked about how diabetes makes us more stronger and resilient. How it can bring us friends. So like Hadley, Hadley is like one of my best friends and I would not go back in time and get rid of diabetes, if it meant losing her friendship, and then how it can give us a passion. So lots of people get diabetes and then become very involved in fall in love with JDRF, or whatever diabetes organization they decide to volunteer with. And the same is true for a lot of other hardships, I think we face in life, whatever thing you go volunteer for, usually people have like a very personal story of why for why they got involved, and why they became passionate about it. So and I think being passionate about something. And making a difference is a really important, like part of all of our lives, like when I go to schools, a lot diabetes, and at the end, I always close up with whatever hard thing you’re going through, like use it to make yourself stronger, and also make a difference. And I asked all the kids like who wants to make a difference before they die, and everyone’s hands flies up. And it’s just like, so encouraging to know that, like most humans just have this natural desire to make a difference. And diabetes gave that to me, and I hope it can give it to a lot of people. But if someone for example, isn’t isn’t like passionate specifically about diabetes, even though they have it, the last chapter in my book is about how it does increase our ability to show compassion, empathy, so we know what it’s like to get misinformed and hurtful comments and just deal with this disease and the stress that goes along with it all day every day.


Stacey Simms  23:54

The book is called Sugar Linings . And the blog is also Sugar Linings . But the blog is a chance for other people to tell their stories.


Sierra Sandison    24:02

Yeah. So I’ll also continue telling, like continue updating people through that blog on what I’m doing and what’s going on in my life. And maybe if I discover a new sugar lining, I’ll talk about it. But I really wanted to give other people the chance to tell me about how it’s made them stronger about their like diversity about how diabetes gave them a passion to serve the diabetes community or maybe a situation where their diabetes experience gave them empathy for help them be empathetic towards someone else. Or if they have some sugar lining that is maybe unique to them or maybe true for everyone that I just haven’t thought about. I didn’t mention my book, but that they want to let the diabetes community know. So we can add another sugar lining to our list.


Stacey Simms  24:51

I have a couple of questions that I was asked to ask you. If I may, when people found out I was talking with you. Rebecca would like to know how you deal with the down days when having diabetes on board just feels like it’s it’s too much to handle.


Sierra Sandison    25:08

Yeah, so there’s two things. One, I think the hardest week for me was actually that time where I was visiting Hadley in Cincinnati, and she encouraged me to start writing this book. I think my pump like malfunction, so I was like, Hi. And then when I got like, they got my new pump to me super quick, which they’re, they’re awesome about that. So they got into come to me, but I’d been high for a little while. And then I got my new pump on, and my insulin had expired, because it had been in like the heat. So then I was high for another four days before I figured that out. And I was just like, Oh, it was miserable. And I had like five schools every day that had to go to the speedway. And at the same time, I was kind of going through this identity crisis, where people tell us over and over again, like, diabetes isn’t who you are, it’s not part of your identity, like you’re so much more than your disease. And here I am, like, I am the diabetic beauty queen like that is my identity to most people. And I was kind of feeling guilty, like, should diabetes, not be my life, like, I’m so involved? Should I, like get involved with something else and not do diabetes? Does that make sense at all? Oh, absolutely.


Stacey Simms  26:19

I think it’s difficult for any of us to find a balance.


Sierra Sandison    26:21

Yeah, I was like, Oh, I felt just felt like it was overwhelming my identity. And Hadley has an organization called type one teens that she started. And she like, she came into my room because I was crying. And I kind of opened up to her about it. And I felt so so guilty about feeling that way, like feeling like, I shouldn’t be serving the diabetes community. And she’s like, Oh, my gosh, I totally know how you feel. And she kind of made me feel like, it was just a natural feeling. And she’s always the person usually, she’s always the person I go to when I’m having just like the down days. So first of all, I use my diversity to get over him and or to get through the down days. And then second of all, something that’s really inspirational to me is when I meet people who have lived with diabetes for like, 30 or 40 years, and like I’m, and that wasn’t in 2015, like, they didn’t have a Dexcom they didn’t have like an awesome touchscreen insulin pump from Tandem. They had, like, the like, we hear horror stories about what like the diabetes products they use. So like if they can do that with those. With those, I don’t know what to call them. The


Stacey Simms  27:30

The, the bad old days of diabetes, right? I mean, the old tools like boiling needles, that kind of stuff.


Sierra Sandison    27:35

Yeah, do 40 years, and most of those years have the old diabetes tools, and they have way less resources and dealt with a lot more misdiagnosis and misdiagnosis sees, is that the word? And we do today like I can do today. I’m curious


Stacey Simms  27:54

with what you just said, Do you have an obligation to always show your pump? I mean, I’m curious, you know, you’re the show me your pump lady? What if you don’t feel like showing your pump? Does that come into your mind?


Sierra Sandison    28:04

So it is totally okay, if anyone does not want to show their pump. And I had to come to terms with that this year, because I get like, I’ll post a picture where my insulin pump is like tucked in my speakeasy and I’m wearing a dress. It’s totally not visible. And some mom will comment and be like, Where’s your pump? Like? My Are you hiding your pump? Like I don’t want my daughter to see this. And I’m like, they don’t say that word for word. They’ll say where you’re pumping, where’s your pump, but that’s like, how I feel when they say that. And it was really hard for me for a long time. Because like I’m a human being I don’t want I don’t want diabetes to be the forefront. Like I said, like I struggle with that identity thing like is diabetes like, like a whole, like 75% of my identity now, and I don’t want it at the forefront or like in front of everyone all the time. And at the same time. I’m not ashamed of it. But I just don’t want it to be the topic of discussion constantly. And Kerri Sparling, who’s the blogger in charge of six and just posted she went to like a red carpet event with her husband. And she posted a blog about how she the dress she got just like she there’s no way to make it look great with an insulin pump. So she decided to take off her insulin pump and do shots for a couple days. And like, that’s okay. And I I commented. And I was like this, like means so much to me. Like, I feel like I’m not allowed to hide my pump. And it’s not that I’m hiding it. It’s just that I’m not. I don’t know, I’m not like purposely hiding it. I just like don’t want it front and center sometimes. And I met her this last weekend at a conference we were supposed to speaking at. And she was like that I’m just like, so that comment just warmed my heart and I’m like, you just need to know that it’s totally a natural feeling to not want to show your diabetes all the time and like I don’t care what your fans say. Like if you need to hide your pump once in a while. Like you should feel okay to do that. So with that, I mean you’re you know, show me your pump is wonderful and empowering but it doesn’t mean you have to wear it on your head. Yeah.


Stacey Simms  30:00

Michelle asked me to ask you, if you have advice for parents who are struggling to give their kids with diabetes independence.


Sierra Sandison    30:07

Hmm, that is so hard. That’s like, I always talked about this at conferences, and I haven’t, there’s no perfect answer to it. But I do think a balance is really important. Between like, keeping your kids safe, and making sure you’re empowering them and giving them independence at the same time. And I think with so I didn’t get diabetes till I was 18. So I was immediately independent, and that was fine. But in everything else in life, my parents were really, really strict. Up until the point I was 13. Like, the most insanely strict parents you’ll ever meet, and then back by, like, at 13, they decided to like start. So and this is all they’re like, they had this all planned out in advance, at 13. When each of me and my siblings, my siblings, and I turned 13. They started like, slowly, carefully, like making letting us be more and more independent, and at the same time, instilling like adjectives into us, like, you’re so responsible, you’re so intelligent, you are so like, independent, we’re so proud of you. And even when those things weren’t true, like those statements were definitely not true throughout most of my high school, but they kept instilling them in me. And eventually I was like, Yeah, like, I am responsible, like, that is my identity. I’m, I’m smart, and I’m responsible. And I’m not going to make this bad decision


Stacey Simms  31:23

theory this, your book is launching, this is a very busy time for you. What are you most excited about?


Sierra Sandison    31:28

Oh, my gosh, I am excited, huh?


Sierra Sandison    31:32

I Well, I’m


Sierra Sandison    31:33

most excited, I think so a lot of girls, when they hand down their crown, it’s a really bittersweet time, because they’ve been so busy all year, and they’re exhausted. So now they’re gonna stop. But at the same time, they kind of don’t want to stop. And for me, I’ve like figured out the balance. So I’m not exhausted, and I’m having a blast. And there have been like, back in like, January and December in November, I was exhausted. And I was like, holy cow, I need, I cannot do this. So I kind of like learned how to say no to things so I could survive. And now I’m at this perfect balance where I’m not too busy. And I’m really enjoying it. But if I was anyone else, I would have to stop on June 20. And because of Show me your pumping because of the awesome diabetes community I’ve been, I’ve been I have like events booked out and conferences to go to, until like December right now, which is super exciting. Because I don’t have to stop like being decided, oh, I’m not allowed to wear the crown. I get to do everything else that I love. And I’m not really I’m kind of like a not a girly girl. So I don’t care about the crowd anyways, but people still can try it on. So


Stacey Simms  32:34

literally, you can bring it with you. But you can’t put it on.


Sierra Sandison    32:37



Stacey Simms  32:37

exactly. All right, the next interview is going to be all of these pageant rules, because I didn’t know any of this stuff. Yeah, that’s terrific. So you can so so you know little girls or even the girls like we could put it on and take a picture with you. Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Sarah Sandison , thank you so much for talking with me today. It’s been so much fun and the books gonna be a big success. I hope we talk again soon.


Announcer  33:04

You’re listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.


Stacey Simms  33:10

More info on Sierra and what she’s doing now and then taking a look back at her story. You can find all of that at the episode homepage at Diabetes I mentioned towards the beginning of the show that she’s focusing a lot on insulin affordability and access. And she stepped down a while ago from her position at beyond type one, she was in a kind of a volunteer leadership position there and stepped down over this issue. How you might have seen that on social media A while back if you didn’t, I will link up again, the more information on the story behind that and so much of what she’s doing now, really just a remarkable person. And of course, I’ll link up the information on her book Sugar Linings .

Alright, I am working on a bonus episode that might come out in the next couple of days. I have an episode about mutual aid diabetes, this is a new group that has sprung up recently trying to kind of organize and get better information out to the community about a problem that again, insulin affordability and access but it’s something that many of us are already doing in our local communities, right getting insulin to people who need it at least we do that in in Charlotte, I mean, I’ve hopped in my car several times in the last couple of months and careered you know insulin here there and supplies and things like that. And I bet you have done that too. Or at least connected on social media or amplified some mutual aid diabetes is trying to be more organized about that. And our next regular episode is all about low blood sugar. I am talking to two powerhouses of the diabetes community ginger Vieira and Mike Lawson and we will be talking to them about their new children’s book but really about low blood sugar what it feels like what people without diabetes who care about people with diabetes should keep in mind all that good stuff.

Question for you before I let you go too many episodes. What do you think? Right? We’re at two episodes a week now with these classic episodes started that back in February and throwing Get a bonus episode and my overwhelming you. You don’t have to listen to every episode. I hope you don’t feel guilty if you don’t, but I’d love to get your opinion. What do you think here? Is this the right balance? Should I cut back? Maybe go to one episode every two weeks space it out a little bit more? Let me know I’ll put it in the Facebook group as well as a question for you. Thanks as always to my editor John Bukenas at Audio Editing Solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I will see you back here in just a couple of days until then. Be kind to yourself.


Benny    35:34

Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged


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