My family’s journey with type 1 diabetes (T1D) began in 2002 when my then eight-year-old daughter, Frannie, was diagnosed. We had no family history of diabetes and knew very little about the disease, except for the crash course we received in the hospital. As we were searching for information and support we found JDRF. For us, it was very comforting to meet and get to know other local families who were living with the daily ups and downs of T1D and how it affects the whole family. We were also lifted up and inspired by the incredible work these families were doing to raise funds for JDRF research to find a cure for T1D. We participated in our first Walk to Cure Diabetes that same year and became active in the Triangle/Eastern NC Chapter of JDRF.
Fast-forward to 2007 and T1D surprised us once again! After gallbladder surgery I was recovering slowly but instead of getting better I began to feel worse. Headaches, extreme thirst, frequent urination, trouble thinking, and a sudden twelve-pound weight loss—sound familiar? It was my then 13-year-old daughter, Frannie, who said, “Mom, maybe you should check your blood sugar.” It was 340mg/dl. T1D can strike at any age! For years I had prayed for a way to take this disease away from my daughter so she wouldn’t have to live with T1D —perhaps I was misunderstood. I thought I was a diabetes expert, but now I was learning first hand the daily struggle of trying to control my blood sugars and the horrible feeling when they were low or too high. My daughter became my teacher and we now help each other with advice and sometimes just an understanding ear when one of us is having an “I hate diabetes” day.
(Note: My TrialNet participation in late 2005 revealed that I tested positive for multiple diabetes-related autoantibodies. If you have a first-degree relative with T1D, and are interested in being tested, go to www.diabetestrialnet.org for information.)
Over the years we have continued to receive much needed support and advice from families met through JDRF and from the local JDRF staff. As we navigated all the “firsts” there was always another mom, dad or staff member that we could call on to ask questions—and we had lots of questions! How do you deal with sleepovers, field trips, and sports? How best to work with the schools and teachers? Diabetes camp? Insulin pumps? Traveling? Puberty? Driving? Preparing for college? And somewhere along the way we began to be the family that others could call on.
While our mission at JDRF is constant—to cure, treat and prevent T1D, we are also committed to helping all those with T1D live their best lives everyday. We are here for you and we are all in this together!
I invite you to fill out this volunteer form and let us know how you would like to join in our efforts to support local families living with T1D.
Volunteer VP of Outreach