While Sierra was growing up, she struggled with her self-esteem and trying to fit in, as well as with finding her identity. After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 18, she hated her disease—not only because it was affecting her health, but also because of how it made her feel more different than she already was. She refused to wear an insulin pump until she heard about Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999. Nicole, who also lives with T1D, quickly became Sierra’s hero. Nicole’s example helped Sierra develop an empowering confidence, which transformed her life. Sierra made it her goal to some day wear an insulin pump while competing on the Miss America stage in order to do for others what Nicole Johnson had done for her. Less than three years later, she achieved her dream, along with launching the viral #showmeyourpump campaign which encouraged diabetics worldwide to proudly show their insulin pumps on social media. Since then, Sierra has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, the cover of Diabetes Forecast magazine, and Good Morning America. She now spends her time speaking at schools, diabetes conferences, and other events across the country. She tells her story, along with the message of overcoming adversity, and loving the things that make you unique, rather than being ashamed of the things that make you different. Now, with the launch of her new book, Sugar Linings: Finding the Bright Side of Type 1 Diabetes, she hopes to send a new message: one of hope and encouragement for diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
How do you inspire others?
In my book, Sugar Linings, I talk about the good things that come out of the otherwise crappy situation of being diagnosed with diabetes. One of my favorites is that it has given me a passion and a purpose in life: that of serving the diabetes community, as well as encouraging everyone, diabetic and non-diabetic alike, to love and be true to themselves, insecurities and all.
How has diabetes contributed to forming you into the person you are today? Mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Diabetes has definitely made me a stronger person, which is another thing I talk a lot about in both my speeches and my book.
Unfortunately, we all experience difficult, sad, and awful things in our lives. However, those things shape who we are, help us become for resilient, and give us a greater ability to show compassion and empathy towards others who are also facing adversity.
Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 regular sized ducks?
Gah. I hate this question. I always go with the 100 normal sized ducks though. It would be way easier to just kick them like little soccer balls, than to…I don’t even know how I would even attempt to fight any horse-sized animal.