Why #ShowMeYourPump is not a big deal (but such a big deal)

by Leighann on July 22, 2014

Sierra-Sandison-Insulin-Pump-SwimsuitQ was asked to sing as entertainment at a recent local queen pageant. She had on a short, sleeveless cocktail dress that was quite fancy. The dress has some rouging and gathering and all sorts of fanciness. As we were backstage awaiting her turn to take the stage, I noticed a bump on her belly.

I commented to her that perhaps I should have put her pod someplace else to hide it a little better.

She replied with a “No one will notice, they’ll just think it’s part of the dress.”

Q has used an insulin pump for going on five years and a CGM for the last two. Given that her favorite placements are arms and legs (not medical advice!) and given that she likes short sleeves, dresses, and shorts, her pump and CGM sensor are usually visible. She also swims and these devices can be seen on her at the pool six days a week.

Rarely does someone ask what they are. Usually it’s a curious child. Q gives a short explanation, usually to the tune of “I have diabetes. My pancreas doesn’t make insulin. This is my insulin pump.” And the kid usually responds, “Oh, okay.” And time marches on.

I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed anything negative when it comes to people’s reactions to her pump or CGM.

At a recent swim meet, a mom from the opposing team came up to me and made a comment about Q’s pump. I had completely forgotten that this mom is also type 1!

So when I saw the photo of Sierra Sandison, the recently crowned Miss Idaho, with her insulin pump clipped to her swimsuit during the pageant, I was quick to show the photo to a few people. (And that may or may not have been after a few tears.) One of the people I showed the photo to didn’t really react one way or the other.

I thought about this response for a minute and then I think I understood it.

For our family and the people around us, seeing an insulin pump is everyday life. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. It just is.

It’s just part of our daughter (and it’s just one part…it certainly doesn’t define her).

But it made me think back to sitting in the audience of the local pageant recently. I remember thinking as the young women were traversing the stage in their swimsuits that if my daughter were ever in a pageant that her pump and CGM would probably be visible. Sure, we could place them under the fabric, but the more likely scenario would be that they would be visible.

So for us to see a pageant queen wearing an insulin pump, it’s really no big deal. It’s just part of life with diabetes.

But it really is a big deal.

Why? Because she is getting a ton of media attention. Every time there is intelligent media coverage about type 1 diabetes, we all win.

It helps by educating people and removing the stigma that somehow we were to blame.

It helps by teaching the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. If a parent learns that Miss Idaho was drinking a lot of water and peeing excessively, maybe they will see the symptoms in their own child at onset, rather than missing the tell tale signs before a child goes into DKA.

It helps because our children can see that there is yet another “thing” that diabetes can’t stop them from doing, like being a race car driver or elite athlete or dolphin trainer or American Ninja Warrior or Amazing Race winner or, yes, even a pageant queen. (And let’s not forget 1999 Miss America Nicole Johnson.)

It helps because some girls, particularly tweens or teens, might be feeling self-conscious about their insulin pump and want to hide it. But look at this beautiful woman who is putting it out there for all to see.

There might be any number of reasons why seeing Sierra wearing her insulin pump so publicly might help you or your child.

For us, it’s just another day with diabetes. But it’s also pretty darn cool!

#ShowMeYourPump is the hashtag being used on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets to post photos of PWD with pumps.

You can follow Sierra’s road to the Miss America pageant on these social media channels:

Twitter: @sierra_anne93 and @missidahoorg
Instagram: sierra_anne_nicole and missidahoorg
Facebook: Miss Idaho Organization

Photo courtesy of Susan Hessing Photography.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike Hoskins July 22, 2014 at 7:39 am

Great post, Leighann. Very much enjoyed reading this perspective. Slowly, one pump-wearing beauty queen and little actress at a time, we’re making it no big deal for the world to see and respond to our diabetes devices. Thanks for sharing this. #dblogcheck


2 Jenn July 22, 2014 at 7:52 am

Anything that helps to bring awareness and “normalize” these devices for our kids is a good thing!


3 Christi July 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

I agree with Jenn. It’s a huge deal for our kids (my son has had a pump since age 4 and he is 12 now) to see the normalization of their disease. Miss Idaho for Miss America!


4 Kristina July 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

Such a great post! I LOVED seeing that photo and think that what Sierra did might have been a small thing to some, but to us D-Mamas – it was HUGE. Love how it got a lot of media attention, too. What a great role model for our girls!! XOXO! GO SIERRA GO!


5 Kerri. July 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

“Every time there is intelligent media coverage about type 1 diabetes, we all win.” THIS.


6 RenzaS July 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

Great post! The timing of this couldn’t have been better. It fit in so wonderfully as a diabetes awareness activity during National Diabetes Week here in Australia.


7 Lady Imp July 22, 2014 at 9:16 am

So often we hear about how T1D is the “rarer” of the diabetes conditions, and I think that Sierra’s bringing it out into the open is doing wonders for making people realise that it’s just not as “rare” as people think.


8 Stacy July 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

Love this post and Love this hastag. My son has been pumping for a year now and he is always hiding his pump. Ive been showing him all the pictures and telling him that he doesnt have to feel different. He may wear his pancreas on the outside but that doesnt make him any less special!


9 Kate Matthews July 22, 2014 at 10:42 am

Great Blog ! I was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes aged3 years old 33 years ago and have been pumping for the past 4. Was great seeing all the coverage and taking part posting my own #showmeyourpump picture. Any way we can all unite and raise awareness is a positive thing for everyone.


10 Cassie July 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

Great minds indeed! I read yours right after I hit publish.


11 Julie July 22, 2014 at 10:52 am

Check 🙂


12 Alanna July 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

Check, and agreed 🙂


13 David July 22, 2014 at 11:38 am

Check 🙂


14 Andrea July 22, 2014 at 11:41 am



15 Alicia Pescetti July 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

Check 😊


16 Kristina July 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I showed our 3-yr-old w/T1D, Isabella, the picture & pointed out the insulin pump. She responded with “Does she wear that crown with her bathing suit all the time?” Hah! It’s so funny that to Isabella this doesn’t seem like a big deal because it’s her normal 🙂



17 Leighann July 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Too funny!


18 Kristin July 22, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Isabella’s reaction is awesome.


19 Jenn July 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Sometimes it’s the “no big deals” to us that make the largest impression to those around us. Great post.


20 Karen July 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I agree, positive coverage is always a great thing!!



21 Heather Gabel July 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm

It is everyday. It is magic when you see your everyday reaching masses. Thank you for sharing <3.


22 Mike Mack July 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Great post!


23 Kelley July 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I’ve never really “hidden” my pump before so when this campaign first started I didn’t quite get what the big deal was, but you are absolutely right-it’s created a lot of attention and education for us that I think it’s great!


24 Scott E July 22, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Yes, it is a big deal. Not just because she’s setting an example for others (because, really, I have no chance of becoming Miss America), but because she — and all the folks who are writing and spreading the word about it — are making insulin pumps seem less “foreign” to the general public. If someone sees Q (or me) wearing one, rather than scratch their head in bewilderment, they can say “Oh, it’s the same thing that Miss Idaho has…” and it’ll be no big deal.

(Now forgive me if I can’t reconcile why the first and last few words of my comment seem to contradict one another. I just can’t think of a better way to say it).


25 Stacey D. July 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I think there are times when I don’t mind people seeing my D devices (which is most of the time) but there are times when I’d rather keep them to myself. Any opportunity for proper education is a great thing in my book 🙂 #dblogcheck


26 Wendy July 22, 2014 at 9:21 pm

I love the picture, love her position, and love her pump!

Great viewpoint 🙂


27 Allison Nimlos July 22, 2014 at 9:54 pm

I’m so glad we have another Miss America contestant with diabetes. It’s such a great platform and she’s already doing amazing things with it. Even if she doesn’t win, she’s already won us over! 🙂


28 Amy - Diabetes x 2 July 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Even for us non-pumpers, Sierra’s message is so important. The more often the general public hears about T1D, the better.


29 Mike July 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Check. 🙂 Awareness and education are awesome. However, I will not be walking the runway anytime soon. That’s good news for pageant officials.


30 Chris July 23, 2014 at 12:23 am

Thanks for sharing. #Check


31 Briley July 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

I LOVE the positive attitude #showmeyourpump is bringing to diabetes!


32 Ilana July 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Checking in! It’s so nice to have an image to replace that tired old meme that diabetes = fat and ugly. It always cheers me up to see pumps “in the wild,” just doing their thing.


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