Hello there! For those of you unfamilar with my story, I'd like share why I'm running for Team JDRF this year.
Currently, I am 23 years old and pursuing a PharmD at Duquesne University. One major factor in deciding upon a career in the healthcare field was the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes when I was 11 years old. At this stage in the game, counting carbs and checking my blood sugar is second nature but my diagnosis definitely impacted the person I am today.
In the beginning, I was just starting middle school and I struggled to adjust to this additional responsibility while trying to be a "normal kid." I had always been pretty shy growing up and I did not want any extra attention because of my autoimmune disorder. Things got a bit more difficult when 6 months after my Type 1 diagnosis, I was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I learned how to adjust my carb counting for gluten free foods and kept moving along. This is the part where I have to say how amazing and supportive my parents have been. Whether it was my mom trying new gluten free recipes or my dad bringing emergency supplies because my insulin pump had a malfunction on a school field trip, they have always been there for me.
Throughout middle school and high school I was pretty self-conscious about wearing an insulin pump and always needing to carry my test kit and emergency stockpiles of snacks for low blood sugars.
While having diabetes made my life a bit more complicated, there are a few positives I like to attribute to it. The first is that I learned at a young age the importance of responsibility and have always been considered mature for my age. The second is that I learned to stay positive and have a sense of humor. For instance, I like to call my trip to San Antonio my "most memorable vacation" (I was diagnosed in San Antonio, Texas on vacation -- not my hometown of Pittsbrugh, PA), rather than let it be a bad memory. Lastly, I have learned that I can still do anything I set my mind to. Sometimes it requires some additional planning and creativity to accommodate my diabetes supplies and a gluten free diet, but it can be done. A few things I'd like to highlight is traveling and sports. Traveling can be difficult and stressful but it is well worth it to me. In high school, I went on week-long domestic mission trips and always had a great time. Once I went off to college, I caught the travel bug and did a number of trips abroad. The first was a semester abroad in Rome, Italy my sophmore year, during which I explored other regions of Italy and Europe. I then spent 4 weeks in Tanzania, Africa the summer before my senior year. While there, I worked on a water project for a rural community.
The other concern/difficulty with diabetes is low blood sugars while doing fun athletic things. I choose to do dance and ultimate frisbee in high school and always had to think through how intense practice was going to be and how to address possible lows. Just this past year, I joined a women's Gaelic football team and rediscovered the craziness involved with playing a sport and being a diabetic. This made the physical challenge just a bit more challenging but I loved learning a new sport and getting to know all the women on the team. They are truly an inspiration to me and part of the reason I chose to push myself this year and run a half marathon. I was never a fan of running in general, but seeing how hard the others work on and off the field inspired me to focus more on my physical strengths. At first, I was a bit worried about going on long distance runs and having to deal with fluctuating blood sugars but I became better at knowing how to adjust my insulin settings as I became stronger and stronger and able to run farther and farther with each workout.
All in all, diabetes has made my life harder at times but I truly believe I am a stronger person because of it. My goal is simpy to run 13.1 miles and enjoy a nice big meal afterwards with friends and family.
Thanks for reading and hopefully thanks for donating!
What is Type One diabetes? Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone people need to get energy from food. T1D strikes both children and adults at any age and suddenly. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle.
Learn more about JDRF and our chapter at www.jdrf.org
JDRF: Team JDRF in Pittsburgh continues to grow each year, as do our research efforts, advancements in T1D resources and support, and progress we’ve made in the search for a cure. Recently, our community has been celebrating many successes with beta cell replacement and the artificial pancreas, but the lives of those with Type One are still dealing with many challenges each day.