Congrats again to the winners of our 2015 DiabetesMine Patient Voices Scholarship Contest, announced a few weeks ago. Over the next couple of months, we'll be featuring an interview with each, gradually leading up to our signature 2015 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit this Fall at Stanford University. Now in its fifth year, this invite-only forum brings together patient voices with industry, regulatory, clinical and D-tech leaders -- all in the name of fueling innovation, especially in these times of #WeAreNotWaiting excitement.
This year, each of our winners submitted their own "diabetes life hack" -- a trick or tool they use to make living with diabetes a bit easier, like how MacGyver could get out of any jam with a rubber band or paper clip! We featured some of these Life Hacks this past week, and we're hoping those inspire others to share theirs too.
First up here is Corrine Logan, a 20-something who's been living with type 1 diabetes for almost her whole life. She's currently a junior at the private Fordham University in New York City, studying business. And she's actually launching her own small business called PumpStash, offering attire outfitted with spandex holders for insulin pumps and other D-devices.
She has a crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign going on now, and there are just a couple of days left to offer support for PumpStash! We're excited that Corrine has shared her story with us (and thanks to Mike for pulling this together).
DM) First off, tell us a little about yourself and how diabetes came into your life.
CL) I'm from California, about 40 minutes outside San Francisco, but am currently in the Bronx, New York, in my junior year at Fordham University. It will be 19 years in August since I was diagnosed. I was 23 months old, and my little sister had been born two months before that so there was a lot on my parents' plates at that time. My mom took me into the pediatrician's office for an ear injection, and they caught it then. No one else in my family on either side has type 1, but my grandparents have type 2.
Can you describe how it was for you growing up, with T1D being all you ever really knew?
My parents were always telling me that diabetes didn’t define me, but I struggled as a teenager and sometimes took that too far and wouldn’t even let it be a part of me. At pizza parties I wouldn’t want to have to leave to check my blood sugar, adjust, and then eat and draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to be the girl that always had a backpack filled with supplies. I got annoyed when friends asked if they could have some of my emergency candy, and often got uncomfortable with all of the questions and comments that came with pulling my pump or meter out. At the end of the day, I didn’t want any extra attention on me because of my diabetes and would convince myself my daily life was no different than any other teenager around me. That has changed, and while I still don't want diabetes to define me, I have learned to embrace it as part of my life.
It sounds like you've always been pretty active...
Yes, I was pretty active growing up and played soccer and basketball for years before lacrosse in middle and high school. Figuring out my numbers was always tough, and I got into the routine of eating the same thing after classes and having consistent meals, and then going to practice. The coaches were all pretty good about letting me know ahead of time what the day's routine would look like -- if we'd be standing around or running long distances, so I could plan strategically as far as my diabetes.
And your lacrosse playing is what led to the PumpStash idea?
It did. At first, I would take my pump off during games and practices for 3 to 4 hours at a time. But taking my pump off for that long time was not a good strategy, because my numbers would spike and then drop. Whenever I had my pump on, I was worried about it falling out and dropping onto the field. I was always clutching at it, and that just distracted me and made me not want to wear it.
My mom and I started playing with different ideas, and that's when we came up with doing something with spandex shorts -- because with lacrosse, we had millions of pairs. We drew up pumps on paper and design ideas, and tried to figure out measurements and find a whole bunch of different fabrics to see what worked best.
I actually have no ability to draw or sew, and no one in my family does either. If I tried to sew on a pocket, my pump wouldn't have been safe. So we went to the dry cleaner's where there was someone who could do that the right way. And they created these special shorts for me to wear.
So the Pumpstash idea was your "life hack" for diabetes?
Yes. For years while playing sports and wearing dresses I struggled with where to keep my pump. In response, I’ve spent the last year creating these spandex shorts specifically for the pump. Pockets along the inside of the back waistband and the front left thigh offer a comfortable, discreet, and secure option to hold an insulin pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). The shorts allow the insulin pump and CGM to stay safe with minimal movement in spandex that can easily be worn under athletic apparel or skirts and dresses.
And how are you going about turning this into a business?
After making that first pair in my junior year (of high school), I was wearing them all the time for lacrosse, working out, or just wherever I wanted to wear them. And someone said, "If it works so well for you, it could be great for other people too!" I started asking other people I knew with diabetes, and did a quick survey on social media. I got 120 responses, and 80-90 were from females with pumps who said they had the same issues. So yes, this was something that was needed and that's where PumpStash came from.
Where are you now in terms of fundraising and getting PumpStash off the ground?
It's all set to go. We have the people to manufacture it and distribution is all set up.
The Kickstarter campaign is (as of June 11) is just $500 away from the goal, and it runs through June 18. That money is to help in marketing and awareness, to help get this going. I wanted to also make sure that this was something people really wanted, and I've gotten some really good feedback from everyone and haven't heard negative feedback. That's a good sign.
There are different levels to participate, from $5 where you get a shoutout on social media, $25 where you also get a personalized note, to $100 with a first-produced pair of shorts and higher amounts where you can be a part of the PumpStash design team!
What kind of designs are you offering to start with?
We are starting with plain black and have sizes for both women and girls. Then we're going to offer plain black shorts with purple pockets, in the same sizes. Eventually, I want to add more styles and also have shorts for men and boys. They're going to sell for $35 and 10% of the proceeds will go to the JDRF to help fund diabetes cure research.
Do you plan to make PumpStash your career path, or do you have other things in mind?
I'm not sure at this point. I want to stick with it, but it's pretty small so far and am not sure if this is something that can be scaled larger. I have two years left of school to figure that out, and exactly what I want to do. I am interested in corporate social responsibility, with a minor in sustainable business. What I could do really depends company to company. For some, it might be helping with sponsorships and sending people to JDRF walks or events, and all the environmental and community relations aspects of a company. Really, it's a mix of PR and business development.
Speaking of pumps and diabetes devices, what D-tech do you use at the moment?
I have been pumping since kindergarten, and just about a year ago switched from Medtronic to the Animas Vibe, mostly because of the integration with Dexcom, since I use that CGM. I did try out the OmniPod at one point, but didn't want a site device that was that big on my body. I'm also terrible at keeping track of keys, wallets... pretty much everything... so I didn't want to have a PDM that I would probably lose.
Are you a part of any other diabetes advocacy efforts?
Growing up, I was involved in the JDRF Children's Congress during elementary school. But I decided to distance myself from that some, and now I'm just starting to get back into diabetes advocacy. My school doesn't have a College Diabetes Network (CDN) chapter, but I've been talking with them about possibly starting one here.
All of this growing up taught me a lot of lessons about life, and it does create challenges that I need to deal with. And now that I'm doing more of this by myself, it doesn't make sense to be all in on my own. So many people are experiencing these same things, and it's great to be able to see that online -- from the funny memes to just shared stories from others who "get it."
What are you looking forward to as far as the Innovation Summit?
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone and following up on the hacks that have been shared. I love seeing how people make day-to-day life with diabetes easier. With diabetes innovation, it's really important to keep that as a focus. There is so much technology and devices, and it's important to make sure those are not only doing their jobs but also making the day-to-day better.
Thanks for all you do, Corrine. We can't wait to see how PumpStash materializes, and we're looking forward to hosting you at the Innovation Summit in November!