Friday, August 3, 2018

If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes?

“No matter who you are, where you come from, people will listen if you are wiling to tell your personal story with honesty and passion.” 
And so Quinn Nystrom, a Brainerd resident, embracing her own words set out to write a first hand account of her journey living with type 1 diabetes with If You Kiss Me Will I Get Diabetes. Her message is simple: Find a cure for diabetes and provide support for some 30 million Americans living with diabetes which is nearly ten percent of the population. Quinn devotes full time efforts to diabetes advocacy. This informative book will resonate to a wide range of people from teens, young adults, parents, teachers and health care providers. The book title comes from an actual question Quinn encountered once at a high school dance.

Quinn's story begins with her younger brother Will's diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age five. Quinn, only a few years older than Will, resolved to help find a cure for her brother. But when at age 13 Quinn is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes she thought it was the worst news ever but in hindsight it has turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to her. With this devastating news of a second child with type 1 diabetes, Quinn's parents began to learn a new normal and how to live as a family with two children having type 1 diabetes. And for Quinn all her adolescent anxieties surfaced: Which friends should I tell first? Would it get better? Could life be normal with diabetes?

There is much to admire in the tenacity of Quinn's mission. Since her diagnosis she has managed to put a positive spin on her chronic illness. Her personal story narrated in the book is done with an authentic conversational tone where you feel like you're listening to a friend tell her story. She gives a voice and insight into the challenges living with a chronic disease, navigating blood sugars, insulin. pumps and counting carbs. Quinn is not afraid to expose her emotions, all the highs, lows and in betweens managing to keep things in perspective and even finding humor in many situations. Her family and friends became her emotional support as she navigates the challenges of learning to live with diabetes.

Quinn with a young girl from Alberta, Canada who has type 1 diabetes

For the past 20 years Quinn has shared her story living with type 1 diabetes to over 300.000 people as a motivational public speaker. She was the youngest recipient at age 15 of the prestigious ADA Star Award for her fund raising efforts. She represented the Association of National Youth Advocate 2002-2003 and was named one of the 2015 Ten Outstanding Young by the Jaycees. Her other stellar credentials include: A company Qspeak that allows her to speak, advocate, consult and write about diabetes. She sits on the Community Leadership Board for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Diabetes Association and  writes a bi-monthly blog for On Track Diabetes. Currently she is traveling across the country as the National Diabetes Ambassador for Center for Change to help raise awareness about living with type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder ED-DMT1. In July she was appointed by Governor Dayton to sit on the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities.
Quinn speaking at The Mall of America

The last chapter in the book is an emotional testimonial from Quinn's mother, Rachel Reabe Nystrom. on how diabetes impacted their family on many levels. Diabetes became a family affair bringing them all closer together as well as deepening their faith and making each person more compassionate to the struggles of all. Rachel noted both children found heroes along the way as they navigated diabetes. Quinn forged a friendship with Nicole Johnson, the only Miss America in history with the chronic disease diabetes. Her testimonial for Quinn's book below.

"Quinn's story is accessible and honest with delightful twists of humor and personality. Her life is an example of triumph over struggle. She is courageous to fight her battles openly and shows readers by example that they can find strength by doing the same. What a wonderful story written by an inspirational woman! Quinn sprang to the national stage at a time when youth advocates were desperately needed. By being herself and channeling her pain into passion, she made a difference in people and health policy. This book gives insight to other aspiring advocates to strive for greatness and not accept NO for an answer. Failure and challenge, as Quinn shows us, can be used to make us better and stronger." Nicole Johnson, PhD, MPH, MA Miss America 1999. 
Quinn Nystrom had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Twin's game, in honor of raising awareness for diabetes. Quinn and family pictured.  

One last note: Chapter 19 includes a letter Quinn wrote to Quinn. It was a poignant touching and heartfelt message reflecting on her life's experiences and blessings that came her way despite having diabetes. She is committed to her mission raising awareness for this chronic disease. In her words, “Surround yourself with family and friends who speak truth and love into your life. When you can't take another step, they will come alongside you to help you. Fix your eyes on God and pray for the strength to walk the path before you. And keep walking.”

For more information on Quinn's speaking engagements, customized workshops, events and social media links go to

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