Dancer, teacher, and television performer Kyrra Richards returned home to Los Angeles in 2007 to face a surprise diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. A member of a profession in which image, athletic condition, and self-confidence are essentials, Kyrra determined to brighten her outlook and accept her condition by dreaming up fashionable cases for her insulin pen, monitor, and lancets. Today her Myabetic brand collections include a whimsical Love Bug heart-shaped case she designed for her young ballerinas. It was her first idea sketched out at home after a frustrating day of auditions in Hollywood. We’ve condensed her story for our Profile Series:
Act Two of my life had begun. I had new choreography to learn – constant prancing to the hospital, frequent turns to the diabetes educator’s office, continuous curtsies to the pharmacy, and extremely long intermissions in waiting rooms. I felt like an understudy to my former self.
My therapist asked, “So how do you feel today?”
“And why is that?”
“Well, I’ve been propelled into a life that requires me to inject something that causes me to gain weight like Santa Claus. I can’t rehearse or work out until my blood sugar levels out. I get to stare at a funhouse mirror reflection while my confidence and bank account plummet. I’ve handed over most of my modeling earnings to the pharmacist, and I’m valuing things in terms of diabetes supplies – dinner costs about thirty-six test strips. I’m a mess.”
The therapist listened and tried to reassure me with kind words. While I appreciated her attempts, I just thanked her, excused myself, and didn’t return. Her bill, and her exit notes came in the mail a week later with a diagnosis of depression. I felt completely helpless, no longer a dancer, but a patient.
I hated my testing kit’s bland clinical appearance, often “forgetting” to pack it as I raced off to start my day. It just didn’t complement my trendy, colorful purse – diabetes was clashing with my life style.
My insecurities came crashing in upon me one evening when I was meeting friends for dinner. After ordering the low-carbohydrate option, I reached into my purse to draw a pre-meal test droplet, carefully unzipping my case on my knees hidden under the table. Waiting for the number, I happened to glance over to see a man at the next table slipping the identical case onto the knees of his khakis. Why were we both pitifully hiding the same standard-issue supply kit?
I returned home, grabbed a clean sheet of paper, and started to draft my ideas. I sketched wallets, belts, and purses as if for the pages of a fantasized Diabetic Vogue.
I’d worked with toddlers in tutus, using creative imagery to teach basic ballet. My little girls loved frilly. I came up with a heart-shaped bag that opened to reveal a colorful butterfly with elastic loops and pockets along the butterfly’s wings to store testing necessities. I even added a smile to the little bug so kids would be greeted by a friendly face when they needed to prick their fingers. For the first time in months, I felt energized.
I began writing a business plan for retailing diabetes accessories. Brilliant, successful friends with backgrounds in marketing, finance, and law formed the founding team for my endeavor. Soon we settled on our brand name…Myabetic, founded with a vision for change.
We’ve started something special. I’ve been given a video of an adorable kindergartener receiving her new Love Bug. In it she’s seen inserting her supplies into the proper pockets and loops, hugging it to her chest and proclaiming, “This is my most favorite thing in the world!” Tears welled up as I realized my dream had come true.
Kyrra Richards’ story appears in My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes, by Beverly S. Adler. You can purchase the book at: http://www.amazon.com/My-Sweet-Life-Successful-Diabetes/dp/0984525491. To learn more about Richards’ company, Myabetic, please go to www.myabetic.com.
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