Xanadu Roque - TheCurlyDiabetic
Xanadu Roque is the inspiring, authentic, and vulnerable voice behind TheCurlyDiabetic - a community designed to empower and inspire other people living with Type 1 Diabetes, especially minorities, to take control of the disease and connect with others who are also living with T1D. Through her vulnerable posts and authentic voice, Xanadau has created a space that is welcoming, inclusive, and shows others that they’re not alone in what they experience.
Xanadu is giving a voice to the experiences of so many, and her vulnerability and authenticity is inspiring. Diabetes is often invisible to most, and Xanadu is on a mission to bring visibility, awareness, and compassion to the disease. Her reflections on what it means to live with T1D, the insecurities she often feels, how she copes with the ups and downs of the disease, the trials her body has gone through, and her choice to love, accept, and honor her body will remind you of your courage during life’s difficult moments.
Xanadu and I connected earlier this year, and it’s been wonderful to support her and watch her share her journey so beautifully and honestly. She’s breaking free of her comfort zone, choosing to share her voice, and inspiring everyone she meets - and I’m so excited for you all to meet her and follow along on her journey!
I'd love it if you'd introduce yourself, what you do, and what you're working on.
Hello! :) My name is Xanadu Roque and I’ve been living with type 1 Diabetes for fifteen years. I am currently working as a Diabetes Peer Coach for Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Type 1 Diabetes at the University of Florida. I work with Primary Care Physicians and Type 1 Diabetes patients to help create a support system for the patients and have them connect with one another to create better outcomes for those patients who don’t have the resources to better serve themselves. My main job is to connect these patients with other people living with T1D in the community because studies show how support systems improve quality of health. I am also there to help them find resources in the community—particularly those who have trouble accessing supplies, need transportation or have trouble finding healthy food options.
My personal project is my blog TheCurlyDiabetic where I hope to empower and inspire other people living with T1D (specifically minorities) to take control of the disease and be apart of the diabetes community.
How did you get started?
With my blog, I had been wanting to create a YouTube channel for about 5 years to help myself with public speaking and to elaborate about diabetes in the Hispanic community. As an introvert and someone who has been pretty shy all my life, I never knew how to start or thought my content would be interesting enough for people. I gave myself excuses for a long time until my best friend (Diana) pushed me to starting somewhere, which is where my Instagram was birthed, with my YouTube channel to come soon after. I want to create a space where people can be open and share their experiences. I also don’t want people to feel alone, a lot of the time we feel like there is no one else who understands what we are going through but there is always someone.
What inspired the work that you're doing?
For most of my life, I never really knew any other people living with Type 1 Diabetes and I always felt like I was alone in the world. It wasn’t until 2017, where I worked with other people living with Type 1 Diabetes and mentored someone in high school living with T1D that I felt like I belonged. But even then, the majority of those people were non-Hispanic White people who didn’t know what it was to struggle to find insulin, not have insurance, have parents who didn’t fully understand the disease and didn’t get the cultural aspects of food differences and how Hispanic parents think everything can be cured by boiling grape leaves because they had a friend who had a cousin who had a sister who “cured their diabetes”.
I recently graduated with my bachelor’s in Anthropology with a minor in Health Disparities which is where I found my calling: medical anthropology. I learned how marginalized communities often have lower life expectancies and struggle more with healthcare than others, especially when they have a chronic illness like T1D, and I want to be someone to help bridge the gap and change lives of those living in these communities.
What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you're living your passion and purpose?
I believe my biggest passion is to help others and seeing others grow. I am more than thankful for those people who have helped me and continue helping me whenever I am struggling in life, so I find that being able to help people makes me feel like I have done something great in this world. We only live one life and we are one amongst a billion. If I’m not helping out others and trying to make the world a better place, then what purpose do I serve? I do feel like I am living out my passion and purpose. It took be a long time to figure out what my calling was, but being able to live it and experience life this was has been such an eye opening and incredible feeling that is hard to describe, other than feeling so warm and full of happiness.
What is your joy blueprint? What lights you up, brings you joy, and makes you feel the most alive?
I have an extensive joy blueprint because my heart is easy to please. When I am able to work on my blog and create content that I see helps people or they can relate to it, it makes me extremely happy. I also genuinely love helping others and being able to see others be happy—whether or not it was because I did it or someone else. My family and close friends also bring joy to my heart and I love being able to spend time with them. The last thing that truly lights me up is seeing the world, and being able to experience life in other places. Traveling teaches you so much about yourself and about other people, cultures and lifestyles and I never try to take it for granted, whether I’m traveling an hour away or going to another country.
How do you live intentionally? Are there tools/resources/practices that you rely on to help you stay mindful and grounded?
I live intentionally by constantly reminding myself to be thankful of what I currently have. There have been times in my life that I didn’t utilize my voice, I didn’t have healthcare, I struggled to find supplies, I wasn’t happy with where I was, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, where I was asking everyone for money, and it’s because of those low times that I am able to appreciate the good. Also working in health disparities has taught me that I am very privileged certain aspects of my life. Not everybody has the same opportunities that I have and I will not have the same opportunities as many others either.
What would your younger self think about what you're doing now?
Younger Xana would be in disbelief of what I was doing. As a teenager, I never wanted to accept that I had diabetes, I wanted to be a chef or a baker and I would be very selfish in certain aspects. I never thought I would want to work in diabetes or even help people because I was so insecure and shy, but here I am. She would be proud of the woman I’m becoming at astonished at all of the hills I’ve had to repeatedly climb to get to where I am now.
Do you have a go-to mantra or affirmation?
My go to mantra is “life finds a way”. This quote is from Jurassic Park (my favorite movie) and it used to be something I just liked but as I’ve grown up, it’s become a reoccurring theme in my life. There have been times where I felt completely lost and times when I just didn’t understand what was going on, but life always finds a way, especially as a person who lives with T1D.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream right now would be to work on my passion project full time and see it grow into a nonprofit where I am constantly having events, educating others, and helping people living with T1D learn what works for them.
Joy Corner is a new interview-style blog series brought to you by Seek The Joy Podcast. Our mission continues to be a desire to share your stories, truths, joys and inspiration in your words. We invite you to join our corner, and share your joys, passions, and moments of inspiration as we continue to seek the joy, together. Join this series here