Kareen Donegan and Phil Appel were all too familiar with type one diabetes (T1D) when their daughter, Jane, was diagnosed when she was six-years-old. Although the disease does not run in the Donegan/Appel family, three years prior, their other daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed. Coincidentally, both Appel daughters received their T1D diagnosis on the last week of September at the age of six.
“Lucy was a really active kid and then all of a sudden she was tired all of the time,” Kareen recalled. She also started showing other common T1D symptoms such as frequent urination and extreme thirst.
After visiting the pediatrician, Lucy’s test results revealed sugar in her urine and a through-the-roof blood sugar level. She was admitted to the emergency room where she became the first one in her extended family to be diagnosed with T1D.
“At first I was perplexed and in denial,” said Kareen.
Post Lucy’s T1D diagnosis, Kareen and her family took the time to learn about the disease and became involved with JDRF. “Lucy received JDRF’s Rufus the Bear and got involved as a JDRF Youth Ambassador. That was also our family’s first year participating in the JDRF One Walk as Team Lucky Lucy.”
Three short years later, Kareen’s younger daughter Jane started showing many of the same symptoms Lucy experienced. Kareen added, “This time around, I knew what I had to do.”
Jane became the second person in the Donegan/Appel’s extended family to be diagnosed with T1D. However, unlike Lucy, Jane did not have to
“It was easier for Jane to get used to life to T1D because she was used to seeing her sister do it,” said Kareen. “There wasn’t as big of a learning curve for her.”
Today, Lucy, 16, and Jane, 13, have a unique bond that goes beyond sisterhood. “Now, we’re team Lucky Lucy and Jolly Jane,” said Kareen. “We feel lucky and jolly because we have so many people who really support us and help us through this.”
Both daughters refuse to let T1D get in their way. Growing up with the disease since a young age, Lucy and Jane have easily adjusted to life with a Medtronic Pump and Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor and continue to do the things they love. Both sisters play on travel softball and soccer teams. Additionally, Lucy plays on her school’s basketball team and Jane plays on her school’s volleyball team.
“This disease is manageable,” said Kareen. “Your kids can do anything they want. There are so many amazing people who have been very successful with T1D.”
This year, the Donegan/Appel family will be walking for their tenth year as Team Lucky Lucy and Jolly Jane at the JDRF One Walk in Detroit on September 25, 2016.
For more information, or to get involved with JDRF One Walk, please visit http://bit.ly/215TdCB.