For years, each June, I have given out my Lisa Awards. Lisa passed away in 2009 at the age of 36 and she taught me, and this world, about the Power of one person. Usually I acknowledge a few people who have taught this world the power of one in the diabetes world because that is the world I live. Lisa’s battle was with cancer but her message was, and still is, about one person making a difference. I promised her husband (my dear friend) that I would do this annually in honor of my friend.
This weekend being Father’s Day, and this column being ‘DiabetesDad’…….I’m hoping you will indulge me to a little selfishness this year. This year my unknown world of cancer and the world I know of diabetes comes together as I give this year’s Lisa Award to just one person, and probably the only one who will ever receive it twice.
Paula Ford Martin.
Paula has cancer. You can read about her fight at Living with Stage IV. But as an author and television producer, Paula has also influenced the world of diabetes as few others. The two worlds have now intersected. Almost as if my world, and Lisa and Mark’s world, overlapped.
The first day I walked into my interview to be part of the dLife Family, a CNBC TV show all about diabetes, it was a day of filming. We were back stage when Paula and I first met and after our meeting I went home and started doing computer searches on all the people I had met that day. Paula, it turns out, was a powerhouse writer with awards and a diabetes knowledge that was extremely impressive. Most impressive.
I would come to work side-by-side with this woman for years. I would come to learn so much being her partner at dLife. I would also come to love her. As dear a friend a person could ever know, despite being about as polar opposites as possible. She is hard rock and a motor cycle, while I walk and listen to Barry Manilow; her eye rolling of my likes in music vs. hers was a very common occurrence. “Really Tom, that’s music to you?” Opposite.
She did have a wonderful match when she met Tim, an absolute soul mate. She and Tim would marry and her life, along with her children (who she fiercely loves) became absolutely complete. Shortly thereafter, fate stepped in; her journey began and Tim has been there every step.
There are four people responsible for me being called ‘a’ (not to be confused with ‘the’, there are millions of us) DiabetesDad and on the platforms I’ve been blessed to be part; Jeff Hitchcock, Kerri Sparling, Monica Dennis, and Paula Ford-Martin. All have played a role in this process and it’s too long-a-story to explain today…..but here I am, warts and all, due to their urging, education, guidance and on many occasions-patience. (Turns out that not everyone should write as they speak; who knew)
Paula has the most artistically editorial refined code of ethics of anyone I’ve ever met. Her going face-to-face with anyone who wanted otherwise is known to those who worked with her. In the worst situations, find humor. In the coldest story, find warmth. In the toughest and most stressful of situations, find humor. We did that more than I can count.
We were both Executive Producers on a show that would open the gates to learning and understanding this diabetes world and it’s Paula who walked with me step-by-step.
“This is good.”
“This is not.”
“Do this, try this, ask this, follow-up with, do not back down, let’s try this, yes you can, what if we try, can you believe……..and in her recent writings she has changed the world as she shares her battles Living with Stage IV. Her successes, her fears, her bucket list, her wants, her hopes…..all with humor and compassion continuing her teaching and inspiring to all of us. She’s most deserving as my sole Lisa Award Recipient this year. She’s a human force in the Power of One.
Her writings have changed the world touching the lives who are inspired by her strength and willingness to fight, even when no strength seems to be available. So this year, my Lisa Award goes to Paula Ford Martin, again. In her most recent writing on her blog, Paula writes;
:……but Tim told me a few days later that Dr. Chiang felt 6 months to a year was a reasonable expectation for me to still be on this earth. Of course, that doesn’t fit into my plans. I want at least a year to see my “babies” cross those stages and get their hard-earned diplomas. I know that the doctor doesn’t have a crystal ball and is just making an educated guess, but it did rock my world a bit to hear that answer. It’s also, strangely, given me a renewed sense of purpose. My goals haven’t changed, so I’ll just have to do what I can to make sure the medical timeline aligns with the goals.
There is no actual Lisa Award. It’s just space of acknowledgement here in my column. I’m going to change that and create an actual award and only give it when someone earns the Lisa Award Recognition twice. Paula, my sweet and powerhouse friend, I will present yours at the reception after ‘your babies’ receive their diplomas. Meet me there…….okay!
I love you friend. Keep fighting.
I am a diabetes dad.
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