The day after the first anniversary of her father’s passing, Jennifer Zaffarano and her family faced yet another obstacle to overcome: their almost 12-year-old daughter, Lexi, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Lexi had just completed the sixth grade and was experiencing constant thirst and taking frequent trips to the bathroom. In addition, she lost 20 pounds in a short period of time. Not knowing if the cause was puberty or stress from the death of Lexi’s grandfather, Jennifer and her husband scheduled a doctor’s appointment in June 2016 where Lexi’s T1D diagnosis was confirmed.
With the start of summer vacation underway, the Zaffaranos and their extended family and friends reworked their schedules to be there for Lexi. Her siblings even learned to care for her in an effort to help their sister overcome her fear of shots. Jennifer added, “Her blood sugar would get so high she couldn’t care for herself. Our family is an example of ‘it takes a village.’” That support, in addition to a little help from Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes, allowed Lexi to feel comfort when she needed it most.
To ease the transition, the Zaffaranos also brought together Royal Oak Middle School and Lexi’s City of Royal Oak Cheer Squad to provide info-sheets on T1D and how best to manage it. A routine came together quickly, and just over one year since Lexi’s diagnosis, the family recognizes that although T1D is something serious, you can still live a normal life.
A JDRF Youth Ambassador on a mission, Lexi set a fundraising goal to raise $2,500 through initiatives such as a lemonade stand, bake sale and bottle drive. Far exceeding her goal, Lexi has already raised $10,000 for T1D research. Later this year, Lexi and her cheer squad will also be raising awareness and funds to benefit JDRF in the league cheer competition.
Lexi and her village of supporters will walk as Team Lexi to turn Type One into Type None at the JDRF One Walk – Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Milliken State Park/ Detroit River Walk.