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The Sugarless Plum by Zippora Karz

Dec 12, 2009


Review by Reina Natero

Feeling dizzy, exhausted, thirsty and running to the bathroom all the time is not the way we picture a promising New York City Ballet 21-year-old dancer. Not trusting her doctor and hiding from the clear messages her shaking body was sending her, Zippora Karz also did not see herself as a patient with diabetes and could not let herself believe her diagnosis. Not while dancing in eight shows a week, not while attending daily rehearsals, not while taking demanding advanced ballet classes could she find the time to accept her diagnoses … until Zippora fell sick.

The Sugarless Plum takes the reader through the tense excitement of a young dancer’s courageous life journey. Zippora Karz transforms her life from one of denial and struggle, towards the acceptance and balance of a successful life with what could otherwise be a limiting health condition.

One thing Zippora knew how to do extremely well was self-discipline. At first, incorrectly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, she was given oral medication and a strict low carbohydrate diet, which sent her blood sugar plummeting as she was dancing athletically for many continuous hours. From the time she admits that she does not tell her doctor about having too many low blood sugar episodes, to the time she leaves another doctor’s office intimidated, Zippora reminds us again and again that the right medical advice, and having a patient-caregiver relationship of trust is key to the day to day successful management of this disease.

Driven to triumph over her medical problems, Karz reminds health care professionals to compassionately reach out to understand patients’ perceptions of their disease in their own lives. Telling a unique story as a young accomplished soloist of the New York City Ballet, dancing the technically demanding part of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker from 1983 through 1999, Zippora Karz’s true life story also fuels the strenuous physical and mental effort of every patient towards winning over the struggles with their disease. Ultimately, The Sugarless Plum inspires us all to find the deeper meaning in our own lives’ challenges and strive to attain a more balanced and meaningful lifestyle.

More information about Zippora Karz and her book can be found at