Defeating Diabetes

Wow, wow, wow! Where do I even start? I love you all so much. The past 72 hours have been insane, overwhelming and SO WONDERFUL!

I have so many things going on that I want to share with you, and I have all year to blog for you guys, so I will get to everything. It’s such a hard decision to even know where to start though! Since diabetes is what has really brought in the most social media attention, I decided I am going to tell you a little bit about my story and my message to you all!

In February 2012, my world was flipped upside down by my diabetes diagnosis. For a while, I pretended that I didn’t have diabetes, hoping it would go away. That led to crazy blood sugars, of course, and a very sick, grumpy, and discouraged Sierra.

In the summer, my friend asked me to compete at Miss Magic Valley (our local pageant in Twin Falls, Idaho—the winner goes to Miss Idaho the following summer). To compete, I needed a platform and I chose diabetes. I was a very different, less confident girl then. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my platform, or how to make it happen. Needless to say, I did not win Miss Magic Valley 2012, and that was totally okay! Life went on, and I met new friends and learned a lot! In addition, I decided that if nothing else, I was going to take the best care of my diabetes as possible to show others that it was possible. 

A couple months later, I competed in another pageant, and WON! However, I competed at Miss Idaho last summer and didn’t make top 11 (out of 18 girls). I came home, competed for Miss Magic Valley 2013, won, and have spent the last year promoting my platform, fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network, and trying to grow as an individual.

My platform is now Possibilities for Disabilities. My sister and I put on sports camps for people with developmental disabilities. I found that the reason my diabetes platform was so powerful was not because of the disease itself, but because of my message: we all have obstacles, but we need to know that we can overcome them, as well as use them to empower ourselves and make an impact on those around us. The kids I work with at my camps are champs, and this message relates to them, as well as diabetics and every other person on the planet! I will talk more about my official platform in a future blog post!

At Miss Idaho 2014, as most of you know, I made the decision to wear my pump on stage while competing. That decision took me two long years to make. When I first started competing, I was using injections rather than a pump. I didn’t want people to see a weird-tubey-machine-thing attached to me all the time, and could not wrap my head around having a medical device on my body for the rest of my life.

Then, I heard about Nicole Johnson: Miss America 1999. She wore her pump while competing at Miss America. My whole perspective changed.

The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie stars, super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you. Well, guess what? Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn’t make her any less beautiful. In fact, in my mind, it enhances her beauty! So, a year after I was diagnosed, I got a pump. It helped me get even better control of my diabetes, and made my life SO much easier. Working up the confidence to compete with it was an entirely different journey, but this summer at Miss Idaho 2014, I finally did it.

As I nervously walked out of the dressing room the first night of competition, the first person I saw said, “What’s that? Is that an insulin pump?”.  My stomach flipped upside down. “I shouldn’t have worn this,” I thought, “everyone is going to be confused and wonder what I am wearing”.  But, the inquisitor happened to be McCall Salinas, the current Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen. She shared with me that she had diabetes as well, but didn’t want a pump because of similar reasons I had had. Through out the night, she stood backstage cheering me on. We bonded over diabetes and pageants, and by the end of the night, she told her mom she was ready to get a pump. It brought me to tears. The thought that I could be one person’s “Nicole Johnson” meant more to me than I can ever put into words. Now, with the title of Miss Idaho, I have had a million new opportunities to spread the word about diabetes and overcoming obstacles! I am overwhelmed with hearing how many lives have been touched by me simply wearing my pump on stage. It means so much to me, and I hope I can touch many more during my year as Miss Idaho.

All my love,

Sierra Sandison
Miss Idaho 2014
Facebook: Miss Idaho Organization
Instagram: @missidorg @sierra_anne_nicole
Twitter: @sierra_anne93 @missidahoorg

Hashtags: #missidaho2014 #showmeyourpump