New Diabetes Book Review: Actually, I Can

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The title is an assertion to the world at large, which tends to assume that people with diabetes can’t do many things because they happen to live with this condition.

At 200 pages and available in paperback and Kindle e-format, Panzirer’s new book is aimed at showing children, families, and anyone else who will listen that type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be viewed as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

A semi-charmed life

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Of course, you can’t escape the family history behind this book. Panzirer is a well-known name in the Diabetes Community, as Morgan’s dad is David Panzirer, who heads up the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust named after his grandmother, Leona Helmsley, the late hotel heiress who left millions to family members (and her dog), and who died just prior to Morgan’s diagnosis.

The Helmsley Trust has pumped more than $1 billion into a variety of T1D research and advocacy initiatives over the last decade.

The family influence is evident throughout the pages of Panzirer’s book, as she describes traveling the world and being able to meet and mingle with high- profile movers-and-shakers throughout her life.

Yet, it’s not her semi-charmed life that dominates the narrative. Rather, it’s Panzirer’s optimism and willingness to embrace the positive sides of life with diabetes despite the many downsides of this lifelong condition.

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Panzirer delves into her journey with T1D, from growing up going to the Naomi Berrie Center for diabetes care, to her experience with hypothyroidism since 2013, to how sports have been an important part of her life, as well as her commitment to school, faith, and family.

She describes her own advocacy efforts with JDRF, including being a part of the JDRF Children’s Congress through the years.

A “can-do” focus

Potential readers may wonder about the rest of the sentence following “Actually, I Can…” Spoiler alert, some of those key points include:

Eat sugar

Panzirer clears the air about a key misconception regarding people living with T1D, namely that we can never eat sugar. She expresses her hope that if readers unfamiliar with T1D take away one thing, it should be the message that people with diabetes can actually eat sugar if they choose and don’t have to follow a specific strict diet. (Of course, we need to manage our blood sugar levels accordingly.)

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While travel is always less convenient for people with T1D — given the need to take precautions and pack a battery of backup supplies — Panzirer describes a life of happy mobility. On one trip to Rome, she not only met then-Vice President Joe Biden and shared her T1D story with him personally, but also met with Pope Francis. The Pope shook her hand and offered her blessed beads before she was honored with the Pontifical Hero Award in 2016.

Wear gadgets with pride

While insulin pumps and glucose sensors stuck to your body may seem like embarrassing spy gear to some, Panzirer describes the glucose management advantages of the devices she wears and encourages people to not stare or make assumptions. In other words, she’s “out and proud” when it comes to diabetes gear on the body.

Cope with negative emotions

Despite her obvious privilege, there are some poignant parts of the book in which Panzirer shares her struggles with the emotional toll of diabetes — to which none of us are immune. As someone who “keeps everything bottled up inside,” she often tries to keep a strong face even when feeling down, she writes. T1D management is tough enough, but sometimes the emotional exhaustion is worse.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that the sucky days where you feel beaten down are the ones that make you stronger,” she writes. “But oftentimes before you get stronger, you have to be weak. So don’t be afraid to lie on the ground and sob your eyes out because you’ve done everything you can think of and nothing’s going your way.”

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Writing a book with this broad focus on educating the public and dispelling diabetes myths makes sense, given Panzirer’s career goal of becoming a pediatric endocrinologist who can help other families with diabetes.

“It has made me appreciate every hour, every minute, and every second I stand on this Earth,” she shares about her T1D. “Everyone has obstacles in their lives; it’s just the way life is. But you don’t have to sit there and let them beat you down. Defeat them. Strength is a choice, and if you tell yourself you can get through whatever you’re battling, then you can.”

A DMBooks Giveaway (now closed)

Interested in winning a free copy of Morgan Panzirer’s book “Actually, I Can?” Here’s how to enter:

We’ll update this post with the winner’s name, once chosen.

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Best of luck, D-Friends!

Congrats to D-Mom Sandra Volling for being chosen by Random.org as winner of this giveaway!

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a leading consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community that joined ishonest Media in 2015. The Diabetes Mine team is made up of informed patient advocates who are also trained journalists. We focus on providing content that informs and inspires people affected by diabetes.

Read more on: diabetesmine


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