Gwen – Age 15
Just over 10 years ago, my parents took me to the doctor’s office after noticing symptoms of what they thought was strep-throat. Expecting nothing more than to be sent home with antibiotic treatment and tips on how to relieve their child of a common “bug,” they were absolutely devastated to hear the words: “your child has been diagnosed with type one diabetes.” I cannot sit here and tell you that the journey over the last 522 weeks has been easy in any way because that would not be the truth. I could sit here and tell you all about the impossibilities of living through this disease, but that would be just as unfair. Instead, I will share with you how optimism has affected and shaped me through this demanding adventure.
Although there is currently no cure for the lifelong battle with type one diabetes (T1D), my family has learned to cope with the disease. Thanks to the help of organizations such as JDRF, my family has found a support system that allows us to get through the day-to-day struggles. JDRF has not only helped me, but it has also helped to put T1D in a different and more positive perspective for my friends, family, and many others living with the disease. Each year when my family attends JDRF events such as the Galas, One Walks, or Rides, the goal is about more than just raising money to find a cure for T1D. The events also recognize that this disease is more than just daily finger pokes, insulin injections and sleepless nights wondering if you’ll wake up the next morning. JDRF has provided numerous opportunities and has drawn me to meeting some of the most amazing people that I hold close to my heart. Thanks to the idea of optimism and positivity, JDRF has raised billions of dollars in hope of turning type one into type none.
As I previously mentioned, I have met many incredible people through my unfortunate circumstances, but I would never be where I am today without the guidance and assurance from one person in particular. As you can imagine, when the doctors first sent my parents home with their four year old, newly diagnosed child, it was much like the first day they brought me home from the hospital after being born. However, they both knew from the start that they were not in this alone. Right away, my family was connected to a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), who would become my hero. Not only has this person taught me the logistics about T1D, but she has also provided me with life skills that any other person is expected to obtain. Although there is no question that I would by all means give up everything I have and everyone that I’ve met to cure this disease, I am so grateful to have become so close to someone that I will always have a friend in.
The few examples that I have shared are just some of the ways that I try to keep optimism in my daily life, while living with T1D. One day there will be a cure, but for now, I will live by the words: “This bright, new day… Complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices, and attitudes. A perfectly matched set of 1,400 minutes. This unique gift cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care and make the most of it.”
Gwen is a member of Team Western Wisconsin, the JDRF Western Wisconsin Chapter Ride Team. She will be travelling with the team this year to Loveland, CO to participate in the JDRF Ride to Cure. If you want to support Gwen and her ride, visit her Personal Page. Thank you to Gwen for sharing her story and setting a great example for the T1D community!
If you want to submit a story about your diabetes journey like Gwen, please contact Jen Allen!