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Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Type 1 Diabetes | 13 comments

Two icons of the diabetes community

Two icons of the diabetes community

Yesterday January 25, 2017 we lost two of the most important people in the diabetes community that I know of.  One, Mary Tyler Moore, you probably heard of.  I was writing about my feeling regarding Mary Tyler Moore and her amazing accomplishments both as anj animal rights and diabetes advocate when I received news that a second, and in my case more important, person passed in our diabetes community.  Since you have heard much about Mary Tyler Moore, I will save that one for later but I have to tell you about the second one.

 Rose Schonberger (Shosh to her friends)

Shosh was 83 at her passing.  A true light for all who knew her.  She was born in 1933 in France.  She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 3.  She was a Jewish resident of France when the Nazi’s invaded and she lived in both Nazi occupied France and Vichy, France.  Regardless of the political authority during WWII, being a person of Jewish decent was difficult.  There are various estimates for the number of people of Jewish descent who were either murdered or sent to death camps from 1940 until the liberation of France.  Some estimates place the number at 350,000 while others suggest it was around 300,000.   Regardless, it is estimated that about 12,000 children age 2 to 15 were murdered by the Vichy or Nazi authorities.   This does not include the number of children murdered as the result of the practice of eugenics by the Vichy government, which was practiced without regard to racial status.

Shosh escaped the Nazi occupation because her parents obtained false identity papers and they began attending a Christian church.  Doing this saved her from the war, but obtaining insulin was a different thing all together.  Shosh told me that her family relied on packages from the Red Cross, handouts from other people with type 1, the money the family could scrape together to purchase insulin and after liberation of the part of France where she lived insulin obtained at the American embassy and from the generosity of the American military.  Shosh often told me that her family was always appreciative of the insulin provided to her from Eli Lilly as dispensed by the American Red Cross in liberated France.  Shosh came to the US with her mother after the war and later married.  She has three children that she spoke of often and with great love.

A Great Friend

I got to know Shosh at TUDiabetes where we shared many good laughs.  Her story is one of survival and her spirt was amazing.  Shosh was always embracing new things in diabetes care.  She wished for a CGM, if only Medicare would pay for it, and she treated her diabetes up until the final days of her life.  Last year I was at Eli Lilly and visited the 70 year memorial.  It honors people who have lived 70 years or more using insulin.  I found her name and sent her this picture.   She was thrilled to think someone would visit the memorial and in particular remember her place on it.

She was an icon of TUDiabetes for many years.  Her fun banter and measured observations often made me feel her hope, not just for the present but also the future.  Shosh was my friend, sometimes my mentor and always my supporter.  I am so sad that we will no longer share our diabetes journey together.

In July 2013 Shosh wrote this on TUDiabetes under the topic TUDiabetes University.

 

“Here you can learn anything & everything. We ask & answer questions-get help & help each other- laugh a lot- discuss our problems & solve them.
have lots of fun just babbling on & off———hahaha

the chat room is just great- I love it —it’s the ” united nations of diabetes”

healthy wishes to all”

shoshana

 

Healthy wishes to you forever, my dear friend

-30-

rick

13 Comments

  1. This is a really terrific piece about a really terrific person. Shosh welcomed me to the tud chat room and I always marveled at how she persevered despite the onslaught of the complications after a lifetime of D. She was so cheerful and happy to be included in whatever was happening in all of our lives. I will miss her deeply.

    • Thank you for the kind comment Clare. I cherished my friendship with Shosh as I know you did as well. She was a remarkable person with a terrific life. I know she was blessed by the friends she developed at TUDiabetes.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I didn’t know Shosh but you’ve got me in tears. I too am upset that CGM is yet to be available to the masses but hearing about exactly how difficult things can be has put things in perspective for me. I’m so grateful for my subsidised insulin and test strips and all the free education that is available to me. I’m also grateful for online communities where people speak and understand my language. I know things could be better but when you see how full the glass is, things really aren’t so bad.

    • Thank you for the very kind comments about my post.

      Every time I think of diabetes as I have known it and then compare it to the diabetes Rose knew as a child, I am amazed. Clinitest was not invented 1942 and given it was an American invention it is unlikely Rose had access until 1946/1947. Imagine 10 years of taking insulin and not having access to any testing products and when those came available they were urine testing. It was another 35 – 40 years before she had access to blood glucose testing.

      But all of that was secondary to the person she was. She laughed with ease and was so supportive of all she came into contact with. We all need a friend like Rose and when they are a friend with diabetes that is even better.

      • Incredible! Thank you for indroducing your dear friend to me. I’m sorry for your loss and ever so grateful for the education about the early days.

  3. An amazing tribute to two inspirational women! I was watching some clips on MTM and I realized she is my style icon. I swear her clothes look just like mine. I loved that show. My BFF growing up had diabetes so she was a much talked about woman. Shosh’s story should be a movie. inspirational!

    • I will have some to say about Mary Tyler Moore next week and yes she meant a great deal to me as well. I have so many fond memories of the Mary Tyler Moore show. I had so many emotions yesterday.

      I do think Rose’s story is well worth a movie. She was a remarkable woman who was so much fun to be around. I wish you had gotten to know her online. All who did get to know her, loved her.

  4. Beautiful Tribute. Diabetes friendships always amaze me.

    What an amazing life it sounds like she lived.

    • Thank you for you kind words Asleigh. Her life demonstrated to me you are never to old to tell your story. Hundreds of people on TUDiabetes loved her as much or more than I.

  5. Miss Rose story is a true inspiration. I am listening to your interview with Scott Benner and hearing you talk to him about when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how you treated it back then brings memories to me because I was diagnosed a type 1 in November 1966 at age 9. Yes,I have been living with it for 50yrs and living well being on a medtronic pump sence ’03. My parents sent me to a diabetic camp first two weeks of August and went there till I was 21 where I learned soooo much of how to take care of my self.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the discussion with Scott Benner, and the remembrance of my friend Rose Schonberger. Rose was a remarkable human being and her story brought tremendous hope to all who knew her. I am amazed at how we got along in the 60’s and 70’s with urine testing and the older methods of managing diabetes. I know I feel incredibility fortunate to have been given the gift of time.

      I see that given your age had you grown up in my area it is likely you have visited my house back in the 60’s. My mom being a type 1 seemed to care for many children with type 1 while their parents had appointments and needed a sitter.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Rick. I’d never heard of this lady, but she sounds like a wonderful woman. It’s an astonishing story. I’m so glad you were able to share that picture with her.

    • Rose Schonberger was an awesome person, and I know Rose would have enjoyed your site a great deal. She used to have great fun in discussing food with anyone who would listen. I can still see her words on my screen as she would make fun of ‘fine’ American dining. He retort was “well I grew up in France, where we knew how to cook”. Then I would remind her about the Nazi thing and she would say yes why do you think they invaded? “They were hungry of course’. LOL

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