Dr. Eric Pinashin thinks and talks about diabetes a lot.
As a medical science liaison for Abbott’s Diabetes Care business, he travels across three states – specifically California, Hawaii and Arizona – to support the company’s FreeStyle Libre portfolio of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs).
Sometimes that means working with people inside and outside the company to increase awareness of and access to FreeStyle Libre technology. Other times it means training new hires, checking materials for medical accuracy and promoting diabetes research.
“My favorite part of my job is educating healthcare providers and giving them that ‘ah-ha’ moment of understanding how our glucose-sensing technologies are intended to help patients feel empowered to manage their diabetes,” Pinashin said.
But Pinashin’s interest in diabetes management isn’t just professional.
That’s because in 2014 he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
The diagnosis came when Pinashin was 20 years old and getting his bachelor’s degree in biological science. Despite his burgeoning understanding of how his body worked, he still struggled to manage his diabetes. “I was truly in the dark – somehow making insulin dosing decisions, exercising and even going to sleep with no idea what my blood sugar was or was going to be overnight,” he said.
It was especially challenging for his active lifestyle of hiking, skiing, surfing and running. “I tried to remain optimistic, but there was always a lingering worry that my blood sugar would drop halfway through a hike and I’d run out of juice.”
JDRF, a global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research, was one of the first organizations Pinashin turned to after his diagnosis. “The Los Angeles chapter definitely got me through those difficult post-diagnosis qualms of: ‘Why me? Will I have a normal life? What will others think?’” he said. “The knowledge and sense of community I received there were invaluable.”
Coming Full Circle
Pinashin continued to endure five years of fingersticks, anxiety and uncertainty during and after earning his PharmD. Then, in 2019, a colleague recommended he try one of Abbott's FreeStyle Libre CGM systems, and his life changed in a matter of weeks.
“There are no more hidden turns or surprises when you use a CGM,” he said. “I am in-the-know at all times and can do 10-mile hikes, surf for hours on end, and run and bike as confidently as I had prior to having diabetes. I can channel my energy and focus into the activity, not my blood sugar.”
Pinashin joined Abbott in late 2022, in no small part because of how the FreeStyle Libre portfolio has improved his ability to manage his diabetes. And his story is approaching another full-circle moment. On Nov. 4 he’ll help kick off TCS New York City Marathon weekend by participating in the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K, which is the charity partner of choice for this year’s race. For every runner who crosses the finish line, Abbott’s Diabetes Care business will donate $2 to JDRF, up to $20,000.
“First and foremost, it is an honor to represent Abbott and the millions of people living with diabetes,” Pinashin said. “I’m also thrilled to run the race as someone whose whole diabetes journey has benefitted from the services and community that JDRF provides. If my story inspires a few more people to run the Abbott Dash with me and rack up more donations for JDRF, that would mean to world to myself, fellow ‘diabuddies’ and their families.”
Now that’s paying – or, in this case, running – it forward.
The views expressed on this website should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.
This story was originally published on October 18, 2023 and updated on October 27, 2023.