Welcome to JDRF Bay Area’s blog, One on 1, a series of interviews with people who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Members of the community talk about how T1D affects them, how they manage it, and what they have accomplished despite it. Today we talk with Scarlett Ames, a freshman at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA. She founded the teenage support group D1aBosses last year at the age of 14.
JDRF Bay Area: When were you diagnosed with T1D and what was it like for you at the time?
Scarlett: I was diagnosed with T1D on January 21, 2016. Like almost all kids diagnosed, I had no idea what was happening. During this time I cried every day, felt very alone, and no one knew what I was going through.
JDRF Bay Area: How has your outlook about the disease evolved over time?
Scarlett: I’ve gone through many stages of emotions towards T1D. At the beginning of my diagnosis I thought I would never be a normal teenager again. One teen started reaching out to me and made me feel very supported but I wanted more support and I knew there were more teens out there. I started embracing the flaw that makes me different and I have grown to love this part of me. Everybody deals with T1D in different ways but I want more people to know they are strong and this disease doesn’t define them.
JDRF Bay Area: What inspired you to start D1aBosses?
Scarlett: When I was diagnosed I felt very alone and don’t want anybody else to feel that way. On my first day at the hospital a doctor who had T1D (and wore a T-slim) came into my room and showed me how it worked. After he left I felt much better and almost was excited to get a pump. A year later after I settled in I wanted to start a group of diabetic teens who help other newly diagnosed teens and tweens. Our mission is to make kids feel like they aren’t doing this alone.
JDRF Bay Area: What kinds of activities and support does D1aBosses provide?
Scarlett: D1aBosses provides support, empowerment, and guidance for newly diagnosed teens. The D1aBosses meet up once a month to do fun activities such as bowling, go karting, going to House of Air and more. When a kid is newly diagnosed we will either call, email, text, facetime, or visit them to help them through this difficult time depending on their preference. D1aBosses is 100% a choice and we understand many would prefer to do this alone with family.
JDRF Bay Area: What have you learned from others in your group that you would not have known otherwise?
Scarlett: When us D1aBosses meet up we don’t stop talking! Every time we meet we talk about new diabetes subjects such as blood sugars, sports, foods and more. Before I started D1aBosses I couldn’t talk to anyone about diabetes because no one could relate to my problems. The D1aBosses have taught me to be strong and that there are always people who understand. They have taught me to look at the bright side of diabetes and the benefits of being different.
JDRF Bay Area: What is the artwork on your website?
Scarlett: My mother Susie is an artist and wanted to have an original piece on our website. My mom wakes up with me every night when my blood sugars are chaotic and is my biggest supporter. I wanted her to have a piece on the website because she does so much for me.
JDRF Bay Area: What would a cure mean to you?
Scarlett: A cure would mean that I would lose the part of me that makes me different. A few years ago I would have smiled to the thought of a cure but now I just think ‘‘what if?’’. Don’t get me wrong; T1D takes a lot of work and certainly has its low points but it’s a part of me.
Learn more about D1aBosses on Instagram @D1aBosses; or visit https://d1abosses.org