If you ask most people about the hardest challenge of living with diabetes, they'll nearly always say something like: "It's so frustrating, and I never get a break!" or "It's so hard to keep motivated when I feel like I'm 'failing' all the time."

Or the classic: "None of my family or friends understands what I'm going through. I feel so alone!"

Community support

For many thousands of PWDs (people with diabetes), having access to a whole new world of connections via the Internet is transforming the experience of being a patient from a horribly isolating one of hopelessness and helplessness to a more positive, social experience that helps them feel understood and empowered.

"The online patient community is your best and most immediate resource."

Even as you read this, scores of PWDs are chatting via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and dedicated online communities—learning, laughing and helping each other with practical tips that no doctor who hasn't walked in our shoes would ever know.

The straight story

Not sure how to keep your insulin cool in hot weather? Or what to say to meddling relatives playing 'food police' over Christmas dinner? Hoping to find a clinical trial in your area to volunteer for? You guessed it: The online patient community is your best and most immediate resource.

The information there isn’t filtered, glossed-up for a sales pitch, or vetted by big-name doctors. Rather, it is real, addressing the gritty day-to-day challenges of diabetes: constant pressure to eat perfectly healthy, exercise fastidiously and take multiple meds exactly as instructed sometimes up to eight times a day.

Who enjoys poking themselves to take a blood test? No one! And there’s that defeat when the numbers are out of range, which is often! Connecting with others who can relate to all this is priceless.

Even if you’re not living with a broken pancreas yourself, but supporting a child, parent or partner who is, there is no better window into the realities of this disease and life hacks that can help ease the burden. We call it the Diabetes Online Community, or DOC for short, and for many who've discovered it, it is nothing less than a lifeline.