The Sugarless Plum

Zippora Karz

Harlequin,  October 2009

It started as the perfect story. Zippora Karz was a member of the famed New York City Ballet by the age of eighteen. By twenty she was starring as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, dancing roles created by Jerome Robbins, and traveling the world.

It was the stuff dreams are made of until, at age twenty-one, Karz became exhausted, dizzy and excessively thirsty. Heavy pancake makeup covered the sores under her arms that would not heal, but she neglected to go to the doctor. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with diabetes, and learned that if she continued to ignore her symptoms, she risked heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation of her toes, feet and legs. She struggled to get the correct diagnosis and treatment, first thinking she had Type-2 diabetes, when in fact she had Type 1, juvenile diabetes. Once placed on an insulin regimen to regulate her blood sugar, she would inject herself with unsafe doses before going on stage in misguided attempts to obtain peak performance. The potentially fatal result of Karz's self-experimentation became all too real when she nearly lost consciousness. Her weight dropped and she became dangerously ill.

Balancing ballet and her blood sugar would be a long and difficult struggle for Karz, but eventually she learned to value her body and work with it, rather than rage at its limitations. In The Sugarless Plum, Karz shares her journey from denial, shame and miseducation about her illness to how she led an active, balanced and satisfying life as an insulin-dependent diabetic and soloist with one of the world's most famous ballet companies. Through her fascinating story, those struggling with diabetes and other serious illnesses can find encouragement and inspiration as well as practical advice on achieving physical and emotional wellness.

After sixteen years with the New York City Ballet, Karz retired and took her passion and skills into a whole new arena as a diabetes educator and advocate, where today she inspires people to not just manage their illness, but to thrive and fulfill their passions. The Sugarless Plum takes readers deep into the heart and soul of a young dancer, and is a remarkable testament to determination and perseverance.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780373892037 | Publication Date: October 2009

"From the very first sentence I was pulled into a magnificent story of triumph over adversity Zippora's story gives courage and strength to anyone with diabetes."
--Lois Jovanovic, M.D., Sansum Diabetes Research Institute

"A must read for anyone who has diabetes or knows someone who does. Zippora followed her passion and found a balance necessary for a full and rich life."
--Kay Mazzo, Co-chairman of Faculty, School of American Ballet

"Zippora has enabled us to realize that with support and commitment dreams can come true and diabetes can be conquered. Her story is an inspiration for us all."
--Francine R. Kaufman, M.D., author of Diabesity

"With generosity and courage, Zippora vividly describes her passion to dance while balancing her ever-changing need for medication. She was an exquisite dancer, and this is a beautifully written and inspiring book."
--Allegra Kent, former principal dancer, New York City Ballet

"Zippora was an enormously talented dancer and she brings to this book her unique perspective on being an athlete with diabetes. Her wonderfully positive outlook provides invaluable information that readers will find both helpful and fascinating!"
--Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief, New York City Ballet

"Zippora Karz had what the great dancers have: a pure-hearted musicality that could bring audiences to tears. Your won't be able to put this book down."
--Elizabeth Kendall, author of Autobiography of a Wardrobe