Receiving a type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis can be a traumatic and isolating experience. JDRF’s T1D Connections Program is a resource available to the T1D community that connects individuals to others who understand what it’s like to live with T1D. JDRF Outreach Volunteers play the critical lead role in building early relationships with newly diagnosed individuals and their families—welcoming, supporting, guiding, and connecting them to the larger T1D community and JDRF.
Cheryl Murray is a vital part of the Eastern PA network of Outreach Volunteers, who are the lifeblood of our mentoring program. Read below to find out what being a part of our local T1D Connections program means to Cheryl, who has a son with T1D.
December 10, 2014, is a day that I will never forget—a day which changed our family forever. During his 11-year well-check appointment, my son, Connor, was diagnosed with T1D. His diagnosis came as a complete shock to us and his pediatrician. There was no time to process what was happening as we were sent immediately to CHOP for the next four days.
I left the hospital with so many emotions—thankful for finding out before something terrible happened but also scared, angry and mostly overwhelmed. After leaving the hospital, I knew we needed to maintain as much normalcy in our lives as possible. One of the first things that happened after returning to work was that someone put me in touch with a coworker who was also T1D. I found great relief in knowing someone had an understanding about what I was talking about, and it gave me a resource to ask questions as they came up.
You are not alone. The first six months are the hardest, and sometimes it is hard to see beyond that point. There are excellent people and resources available to support you, and we are in the fight for a cure together!
Fast forward a year (what was probably the most difficult year of my life, with very little sleep and a lot of stress) and I decided that we needed to do more to help in the fight for advances in the treatment of T1D and, hopefully, someday a cure. Our family created a One Walk team, Conman’s Crusaders. We participate in JDRF One Walk Bucks County annually, which shows our family—especially Connor—our support system consisting of many family members and friends.
But even after participating in One Walk, I still felt that I needed to do more. I needed to be able to help others who would be diagnosed—day after day. I wanted to empower others to have the confidence and strength to tackle this disease on a daily basis. These are the reasons why I have become a T1D Connections volunteer for the JDRF Eastern Pennsylvania office.
Being a volunteer enables me to provide understanding and support to other newly diagnosed families. I am proud to be part of the T1D Connections volunteer group. These volunteers are extremely supportive of one another, and they help to answer questions that may arise, allowing us all to be a better support system for our newly diagnosed families.
These last three and a half years have been quite an adventure. Since Connor’s diagnosis, we have met so many people. I am grateful for all the wonderful and supportive people with T1D and their families that we have met along the way—and continue to meet each day. The one thing I would tell an adult or a family with a new diagnosis is that you are not alone. The first six months are the hardest, and sometimes it is hard to see beyond that point. There are excellent people and resources available to support you, and we are in the fight for a cure together!
A part of our T1D Connections Program, JDRF Outreach Volunteers have a personal connection to T1D. They are caregivers, spouses, and other adults who either have T1D themselves or have a loved one affected by the disease. All of our volunteers understand how overwhelming it can be to adapt to the daily demands of managing T1D—and they are here to help get you through it.
You do not need to feel alone in your journey—request an Outreach Volunteer! In addition to providing an empathetic ear, your volunteer can also help introduce you to your local T1D community at JDRF events.
If you are interested in helping others by sharing your T1D experience, please contact Outreach Manager CarlaAnn Henry at email@example.com or 610-227-0361.