What Family Means

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More than turkey or football, Thanksgiving is about taking the time to reflect on what you are thankful for. Hannah Vester and her mom Petra are giving thanks for each other and the close family bonds that the burden of type 1 diabetes (T1D) has only strengthened.

When she was 16, Hannah was diagnosed with T1D and quickly learned that even though she could manage the day-to-day logistics of the disease on her own, it can still take a toll. “Since it’s a 24/7/365 disease, we all know it can get a little wearing and sometimes you need a break,” she says.

For Hannah, now 24, family means knowing that her parents are there when she needs them. They are there for the big and the little things: a vent session, an insulin delivery at work, a late-night call about a Dexcom high blood sugar alert that she slept through. They’ve made carrying the weight a little easier and made Hannah’s appreciation for her parents even stronger. Even on food-focused holidays like Thanksgiving, when it’s stressful to balance one’s insulin regimen, their family focuses on the memories being made.

For the Vesters, having T1D in the family means their same holiday traditions, just with more preparation.

Prepare for Thanksgiving with our Hidden Carbs: Holiday Edition quiz.

Hannah’s support doesn’t stop there. She has been a part of the JDRF community since the day she was diagnosed. Through her involvement with JDRF, Hannah has made great friends and connections.

That army is not just here for people with T1D, it’s also for the loved ones who are affected by the disease like Hannah’s mom, Petra. Based on Petra’s involvement with JDRF, it’s easy to see why Hannah describes her mom as “unstoppable.”

“From the moment I started volunteering… I felt like part of a big family,” Petra recalls. “When I became a part of the Ride community, that feeling became even stronger.” In recent years, she has not only ridden, she was even the MC at her JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes event.

For Petra, family means getting involved so that T1D never gets in her daughter’s way. She has hope for a better life for Hannah and everyone living with T1D. Even in the few years since Hannah’s diagnosis, their family has seen improvements in T1D treatments that make her life better and safer. That progress gives Petra hope and motivation every day, and is what she’s thankful for this Thanksgiving.

For all of us at JDRF, family means being thankful for everyone who wants to make a world without T1D.

What about you? Thanksgiving is a great time to show who you’re thankful for. Share #MyGreatestSupporter to show your appreciation.