Role Model: Mary Beth Goeser

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This summer, Breakthrough T1D is starting Role Model Thursdays where we will be highlighting exceptional people in the Breakthrough T1D Greater Iowa community! If you know someone who deserves some recognition please shoot us an email at iowaintern1@BreakthroughT1D.org!

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Mary Beth Goeser was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes when she was twelve years old; her first thought when she received the news? “Does this mean I can’t eat cotton candy anymore?!” Today, Mary Beth is a mother of two, Registered Nurse, and Certified Diabetes Educator who spends her time gardening, cooking, working out, carving wooden sculptures, and writing inspirational books dedicated to those living with chronic illness.  (You can check out her book and blog at www.operationdetermination.com).

We sat down for an interview to talk about her journey and the insight she’s gained from over thirty years with diabetes.

JDRF:  You found out you had diabetes when you were twelve, if you could go back what would you tell your newly diagnosed self? 

MB: I would probably say that it won’t slow her down.  Anything is possible in her life and that she should dream big and know that the only thing this diagnosis will do is to make her a stronger person!

JDRF:  What are some dreams/goals you’ve accomplished in your life?   

MB: Hmmm. Well a happy marriage and happy kids. A successful career of helping people- I used to be a nurse and now I’m a diabetes educator which is really rewarding because I motivate people to take care of themselves which motivates me too.  I just wrote a book about fighting diabetes so that was a big accomplishment.  I’m very blessed.

JDRF: What or who keeps you motivated to take care of your diabetes.

MB: It is really an internal thing of wanting to feel good and be able to do the things I want.  When I don’t take care of myself I don’t have the energy or drive or ambition to do half the things I know I can do if I take care of myself.  So I’m motivated by myself- I want to do great things and be active and adventurous.  When blood sugars are out of control I’m limited. I’m motivated by the things I can do when I take care of myself.

JDRF: What role has Breakthrough T1D played in your journey with diabetes?

MB: Breakthrough T1D is such a passionate and drive organization that won’t stop until they find a cure. I’m extremely inspired by their drive and passion.  They also play such a big role in funding research. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I didn’t even use a blood sugar machine and now there is so much technology that makes my daily life easier. I think that the money that Breakthrough T1D raises can be thanked for some of that technology.

JDRF: What are you most passionate about?

MB:  I’m most passionate about finding joy and happiness in every moment. Not wasting a single second on anything that doesn’t bring me happiness. Finding joy in the journey.

JDRF: How have you found joy in your journey with diabetes?

MB:  A lot of the joy I’ve found is through helping others with diabetes. I like helping people accept their disease and move on with a good attitude- not letting diabetes slow them down. I love to see people embrace their diabetes and have good control over their health. I’ve turned my own experiences into a career that can help others live positively with chronic illness.

What are top three tips for those living with diabetes?

First of all, make it through the stages of grief and get to acceptance.  You can’t do anything until you’ve accepted your disease. So that’s the first step/tip. Embrace it.

Second, become a master of your disease.  Learn as much as you can and become the best person with diabetes you know.  Make it a top priority in your life,

Third, Find joy in the journey. There will be setbacks and hard times.  Learn from them and grow from them.  Chronic illness is hard and not every day will be perfect and that’s okay. If you can find joy in the hard times you’ll live a great life.