On Mother’s Day—and every day—we would like to express our immeasurable gratitude to all of the mothers and motherly caregivers who live with or care for someone with type 1 diabetes (T1D). You are invaluable as our advocates, educators, and cheerleaders. We celebrate the strength, determination, and selflessness of T1D moms everywhere! You are JDRF.
In light of this wonderful holiday, we’re spotlighting one of our chapter’s T1D supermoms—a TYPE1der Woman!—Dr. Amy Stankavage. A physical therapist living in Pottsville, PA, Amy was diagnosed with T1D 22 years ago, and she is the mother of an amazing seven-year-old with T1D. Read below to learn more about these “diabetes buddies” from Amy.
It is such a pleasure to be a mother with T1D, but my heart is filled with even more love and empathy having a child with T1D. I thank JDRF from the bottom heart for all of their work in making T1D a more manageable disease with the hope of turning Type One into Type None. Happy Mother’s Day from my heart to yours!
Tell us about your personal T1D connections.
I was diagnosed with T1D when I was 19, as a sophomore at West Chester University. I have been able to achieve all my goals after my diagnosis—just with a little more planning and perseverance! My T1D connections are very close to my heart. My mother and sister were diagnosed when they were in their 40s, and the biggest shock of them all came when my own daughter, Ava, was diagnosed at 2.5 years old.
How do you and your daughter work together to achieve T1D goals?
When Ava was first diagnosed, she said to me, “Mom we are diabetes buddies!” I knew at that point everything was going to be okay because she saw me living an active and healthy lifestyle. Yes, of course, we eat our ice cream and cookies, but to keep our sugars more stable, we stick to lean meats, low-glycemic carbs, and a lot of fruits and vegetables. And, of course, gymnastics, baseball, and dancing keep Ava (and mom) busy!
How has caring for a child with T1D provided insight into your own treatment?
Having a child with T1D has taught me to be even more conscientious about how I manage my blood-glucose control. Kids are always watching everything you do, so I want to be a good example of how a diabetic can live a normal and healthy life. I can only hope and pray these insights stick with her throughout her teenage and adult life!
Be proud of keeping your child healthy.
What advice do you have for mothers with T1D? How do you balance prioritizing your T1D needs when caring for a child?
My advice for mothers with children with T1D is to not associate a feeling with their blood-glucose numbers. There are some days you will do everything correctly and the numbers will not show it. You have to be patient and give yourself credit and praise.
It’s not easy. It’s a 24/7 disease. Know there is always someone to reach out to at JDRF if you need help or just need to vent. Be proud of keeping your child healthy, and know there will be tough days—it’s inevitable. Educate everyone around your child about their disease, especially when they are school-age. I have never hidden Ava’s pump or her blood-sugar checks. I want her to be proud of herself and educate others.
Like I said, I try to lead by example—but it is hard to manage both mine and Ava’s sugars. Obviously she is my number one priority, but if I am not healthy, then how am I supposed to care for her?
Kids are always watching everything you do, so I want to be a good example of how a diabetic can live a normal and healthy life.
Why and how have you been involved with JDRF?
I have been involved in the JDRF since my diagnosis, but I have been more of an advocate since Ava had been diagnosed. They have such wonderful opportunities—Ava is a Youth Ambassador, and I am an Outreach Volunteer, helping newly diagnosed children and adults as well as educating others about T1D.
The organization’s initial impact was made on the first day Ava was diagnosed with T1D. Rufus and the Bag of Hope brought happiness to Ava’s face! It was so comforting for both her and myself—on a day I will never forget.
We have also been involved in the JDRF One Walk, featured as the Fund a Cure speakers for JDRF Allentown and Hershey Elegance galas, met and educated so many newly diagnosed with T1D, and attended many research updates funded by JDRF. Ava and I hope and pray we can come back one day—without diabetes—and speak about how the “diabetes buddies” were cured because of all of the research supported by JDRF.
Tell us a bit about Ava.
I cannot even tell you how proud I am of my seven-year-old daughter. Ava has handled this diagnosis at the young age of 2.5 with respect, pride, and confidence—and without fear. She is able to independently manage her pump, and she is gaining confidence with carb counting. Ava is vibrant, strong, healthy, and happy, and she is going to help so many kids and adults cope with this disease with just her smile and confidence. She will be attending her first overnight diabetes camp his summer, where I know she is going to meet everlasting friends with T1D! Plus, Ava can do the “floss dance” with the best of them! 😊
With love and hope for a cure for my child, myself, my family members and the millions of others with T1D,
A part of our T1D Connections Program, JDRF Outreach Volunteers have a personal connection to T1D. They are caregivers, spouses, and other adults who either have T1D themselves or have a loved one affected by the disease. All of our volunteers understand how overwhelming it can be to adapt to the daily demands of managing T1D—and they are here to help get you through it.
You do not need to feel alone in your journey—request an Outreach Volunteer! In addition to providing an empathetic ear, your volunteer can also help introduce you to your local T1D community at JDRF events.
If you are interested in helping others by sharing your T1D experience, please contact Outreach Manager CarlaAnn Henry at email@example.com or 610-227-0361.