Jacob Williams is a fun-loving 7-year-old boy who likes to play soccer. He’s the class clown who likes to make people laugh. Jacob also has type 1 diabetes (T1D), diagnosed on January 31, 2018. Six months later, his mother Colleen says he’s adjusting. “He’s starting to recognize his symptoms and he’s starting to understand all the things we have to do every day,” she says. The entire Williams family has adjusted their lives. Jacob’s father Wes, little sister Natalie, and Colleen have all changed their meal and snacking routines to help Jacob feel less alone in his management of T1D. “It’s a family disease,” says Colleen.
Long before Jacob’s diagnosis, Colleen was familiar with T1D. Her aunt has lived with the disease for nearly 50 years. Still, when her son was diagnosed, it was a shock to her family. “I knew some but not everything about T1D. I knew my aunt had it but I did not know everything that came with it. T1D is a lot of work. It is very frustrating at times and requires a lot of patience” says Colleen.
“You can’t see it, but it’s there. You see a happy boy who is full of life. You see a smiling face. You see a fully functional boy who loves soccer. You cannot see the daily insulin injections needed to keep him alive. You cannot see the bruises left behind from the needle or the tiny pin holes in his fingertips. It’s an invisible disease.”
Despite the daily challenges of Jacob’s T1D management, Colleen feels lucky that they caught the disease early. Wes works with Chris Liebelt, father of five-year-old Charley who lives with T1D. When Wes described some of the symptoms Jacob was having – extreme thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, and fatigue – Chris urged Wes to take Jacob to the doctor right away. “We spent four days in the hospital, but it could have been more life-threatening if we didn’t go in when we did,” Colleen says. The Liebelts also suggested that the Williams family join them at the JDRF One Walk in San Ramon. They agreed and Team Jacob was formed. “I knew this was what we needed to do, to create a Walk team, to fundraise, and to make it an annual tradition,” Colleen says.
Jacob is doing well and is still that fun-loving boy. “He knows he has a strong support system and a lot of people looking out for him. He’d want us to know that he is still like everyone else but his pancreas works a little differently than ours,” says Colleen.