I was definitely a little awed (OK, and maybe a little jealous) when I discovered that fellow diabetes writer Riva Greenberg had been selected to write about diabetes for the influential national news & commentary blog, the Huffington Post. But then it occurred to me what a boon this is for all of us D-bloggers and patient advocates in general, to have that kind of "mainstream visibility." So I asked Riva what it's been like for her to reach this apex. Today, her take on being a diabetes blogger in the national limelight:
A Guest Post by Riva Greenberg
My dream in high school was to be a newspaper reporter like Anna Quindlan or Russell Baker (if you're old enough to remember him) and write the features column. I would spend my career writing wry and insightful observations of life and human foibles, and teach people that who they are is enough and that our beliefs tend to shape our world.
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When Amy asked me to guest post and share about writing for the Huffington Post I said, "It's funny, but I'm actually doing what I dreamed of doing in high school. I just never knew it would be about diabetes!
Amy, my slightly more cynical alter-ego (forgive me, Amy), wrote back, "Hah - me too! I'm sort of living my dream, but it's all because of a crummy chronic illness. Ain't life funny?"
I got a nod from God when my first post went up about Oprah's disappointing (alright awful) show on diabetes. It so freaked everyone in the diabetes community, including me, that I took it up as my battle. That's part of what the Huffington Post allows me to do, champion for us in the world at large.
Amy asked, in writing for the Huffington Post, what extras have come my way? What or who has it given me access to?
So here's the short but fairly complete list:
1) Someone tweeted me about the Food For Your Whole Life Symposium, which I wouldn't have known about if I didn't write for the HuffPost. Nor would I have been given access to interview one of the key speakers, Dr. David Katz.
2) I received One Touch's new lancing device, Delica, to review.
3) I was asked by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to be part of their "Stop Diabetes" campaign.
4) I get books now from the ADA to review if I should feel so moved. I took them up on it because I was told the guy who sends them is a pastry chef. I hoped a cherry tart would arrive with the books. So far it hasn't.
5) I get more press releases now than I care to and more emails from people who want me to cover what they do. Every day a number of people I've never met want to be my "friend." Well, if only that had happened in high school.
6) People I contact while working on a story take my call. This has given me access to doctors, company presidents, social media gurus and Miss America.
In all honesty, I'm sure I have greater access to people and places writing for the Huffington Post, and that's been a gift. Particularly as it serves the freedom I have with the HuffPost to write what I deeply care about, and follow what I feel is my talent—helping others by asking provocative questions and pricking at the way we think about things.
What I get most from this work is the frequent affirmation that I'm making a difference. Like this email I got a few days after a post about speaking at a long-term care facility:
"Someone forwarded your post and I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your putting the Inglis (facility) experience into words. It is the most touching and eloquent account of what it is like to be an able-bodied person working here and how we go home everyday inspired by the people we serve."
"'Cake' has become our new buzzword! I am hoping we can continue to be in touch—and to use quotes from your article from time to time. Many thanks also for this introduction to your column that I now look forward to reading on a regular basis."
— Betty J. Marmon, Vice President, Development & External Affairs
This year I took "Be Bold" as my mantra, figuring at 56 years old what have I got to lose? One of the places my mantra led me to is the Huffington Post. It's given me a very high perch that I want to live up to, representing my fellow PWDs, raising important questions and letting others know a little more what it's like to live with our disease.
Thank you for reaching so high, Riva. We do appreciate!
Riva is a speaker, health coach and the author of "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It" and "The ABC's Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes." She blogs on her own web site and of course at the HuffPost.