December Cure Champion

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“Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers’.”- Amy Poehler

I have said that I could never run a marathon, with a nod to living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), but this past summer I walked almost two marathons in just 24 hours. Although T1D has taught me to limit my ‘always’, JDRF and my parents have taught me to limit my ‘nevers’.

Our family was introduced to T1D and JDRF in 2002 when my older brother, Tom, was diagnosed. I was diagnosed shortly thereafter in 2005, making T1D part of our sibling bond. I can recall our doctors explaining to us that T1D may change the way we accomplish our goals, but will not prevent us from reaching those goals. T1D is a demanding disease that requires attention every minute of every day and does cause me to respond ‘no’ to many things, but with the support of JDRF and my parents I have been able to navigate saying ‘yes’ to what I think would be unachievable with T1D.

This past June, our family participated in Dad’s Trek to End T1D, a 100-mile trek on Cape Cod. The Trek was an event unlike any other JDRF event I have participated in—it physically challenged me, taught me never to say never, and gave me a renewed hope for a cure. I walked 47 miles alongside my dad, who I am proud to say was the oldest and longest walker on the Trek (67 miles!). I can report that I did not need to treat a low blood sugar until the last two miles of the route, all thanks to the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor helping me to manage my blood sugars each and every mile. I may have walked it, but Dad’s Trek taught me I could finish a marathon–just in a different way than others who I have watched run 26.2.

Over nearly 20 years, JDRF has been a constant in our lives, from my favorite of delivering Bags of Hope, JDRF One Walk Boston, JDRF Boston Gala, Dad’s Trek to End T1D, and most importantly, my involvement with the Young Leadership Committee. Leading a group of professionals who have a common bond of T1D has been incredibly rewarding and has been my way of turning something sour into something sweet. I have been lucky to meet amazing people who are committed to a cure along the way and am thankful for JDRF’s investment in T1D research, improving our management of T1D and allowing us to live a better future.

My hope is for all those newly diagnosed with T1D to hear the message our doctors gave us in those early days—you will be able to achieve your goals, just in a different way and with a little extra planning…and maybe a package of skittles.

-Maggie Berkeley, JDRF New England Young Leadership Committee President