Here at the 'Mine, we are constantly amazed and in awe of the work that so many folks are doing in the name of diabetes awareness. From parents of children with diabetes, to adults with diabetes, to even siblings and spouses and friends, there are so many worthwhile advocacy projects that we'd like to showcase ... So we're launching a new series, called Amazing Advocates (for lack of a better term ;) ), because these folks are, well... amazing!

Here to kick off our series is Cherise Shockley, founder of the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy group (you may have noticed our monthly contributions to the #DSMA blog carnival). Cherise is a LADA PWD, and a wife and mom living in Indianapolis. She launched DSMA in 2010, and it quickly became a source of inspiration and support for the online community.

DM) What inspired you to start the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy group?

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CS) In 2010, I lurked and (eventually) participated in the Healthcare Communications Social Media (#hcsm) chat, moderated by Dana Lewis. It was empowering to watch and chat with health care providers (HCPs) from around the world on healthcare issues and social media. I was participating in #hcsm and I had an "Aha!" moment: the DOC uses Twitter a lot. We should have an organized Twitter chat to discuss healthcare issues around life with diabetes.

How can people get involved in DSMA? Do you have to be really active on Twitter?

You do not have to have a Twitter account. All you have to do is follow the hashtag #dsma.  You can participate in DSMA's twitter chat every Wednesday, 9 PM EST.  You can visit our website and click on the DSMA Tweetchat room to lurk or participate. If you decide to create your own twitter account, follow @diabetessocmed to preview the questions.

What motivates people to be involved with DSMA? What kid of feedback have you received?

DSMA is more than just a Twitter chat. Diabetes Social Media Advocacy is a real-time communication resource for people living with diabetes, caretakers and healthcare providers.  DSMA hosts a monthly blog carnival for the diabetes community to elaborate on topics from the Twitter chat. We are continuing to come up with ideas and ways to support the diabetes community and open up communication between people with diabetes and healthcare professionals

I've received a lot of positive feedback from the diabetes community, the pharma industry, and a lot of lurkers too.   All say that DSMA is empowering, fun, interesting and it helps connect and provide support for people directly and indirectly affected by diabetes.

You also launched a weekly online radio show, DSMA Live. What was the idea behind that?

In November 2010, DSMA Live was created to continue the conversation from Twitter. It's a live one-on-one interview with patients, healthcare providers and industry professionals.  We wanted to reach people with diabetes that may not read blogs, have a Twitter account or participate in the Diabetes Online Community. We also wanted to bridge the gap between patients, diabetes organizations, Pharma, healthcare providers and the greater diabetes industry.

What are your goals for DSMA? Any new initiatives planned for 2012?

The ultimate goal for DSMA is to include outreach and support for the diabetes (offline) community. We are building the foundation with DSMA online, but eventually I would like to add 'walls, doors and a roof' by providing and serving everyone in the diabetes community.

So what's next for the short-term? 

Some of our plans include: a peer-to-peer mentoring program connecting patients with people they should know; a monthly Q&A with exercise and life coach Ginger Vieira, an author and competitive power lifter who lives with type 1; a program called "DSMA Salutes" which is a recognition program for people who make a difference in the diabetes community; informative webinars from DSMA participants, DOC experts and healthcare professionals; and a YouTube series called "DSMA Presents." We also plan to continue the World Diabetes Day Blue Fridays Initiative

What has been the most challenging thing about running DSMA, and how do you overcome those challenges?

I  would say the most challenging thing about running DSMA is time. I'm a wife (my husband is in the army), a mother, and I work a full-time job (with Roche Diagnostic-CoaguChek).  I'm blessed. My husband Scott, my daughter and the Advisory Board are very supportive in all things DSMA.

What do you personally get out of hosting DSMA?

I found the DOC in 2008. I didn't have peer support for the first three years of my diagnosis. I want to make sure no one else living with diabetes (directly or indirectly) feels like they are alone. I treasure the friendships and extended family that I've gained.  I can go to sleep knowing that people who participate or lurk in the DSMA Twitter chat, listen to or call in to DSMA Live and Wear Blue on Fridays know there are other people out there who understand what it's like to live with diabetes. I also get to see people "come out," learn to embrace diabetes and share it with the world. It's powerful, moving, motivational and it inspires me.

Thanks, Cherise! We're so happy to have you shaking things up in the DOC!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.