"We help them manage the disease, and we show them how to stay healthy and well. Sometimes it's just the little things that matter, like teaching the kids not to drink sugary soft drinks or that life is OK without sweets like gummy bears."
Siegel says she had to learn from scratch, when her daughter, who is now 16, was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus when she was 8 years old.
"I used to work as a medical secretary for a doctor, so I had some medical background, but the early days were really scary," she said. "I had to learn how much a slice of bread weighs and how to prepare a proper, healthy diet, not just for my daughter but for the whole family."
"But," Siegel said, "you get used to it, and you do learn over the years to accept the disease and to live with it, and now I'm happy I can share my experience with other parents. It's a real hands-on thing, and it gives me so much when I can help other families."
Based on her personal experience, Siegel helps families with food lists for a proper personalized diet and diabetic supplies. She shows the parents how to administer insulin injections and, if the child is old enough, she teaches the child how to do this, but very often she simply comforts the families.
"Life changes so dramatically when your child is diagnosed with diabetes," she said. "It's the families that carry the burden and the responsibility, and that can be quite overwhelming. But very often moral support is needed more than material support, and I don't shy away from that either."