April Cure Champion

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You Can’t Eat French Fries Anymore…

Neither Cindy, nor I, had any history of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in our family and our first experience was with a doctor who horrified our very active son. We were on vacation in North Conway, NH with our extended family, taking advantage of the amazing weather. Swimming, family Olympics, hiking, basketball and eating were our priorities for the week; but Josh wasn’t himself. After countless naps, waking up in the night to go to the bathroom several times and an unquenchable thirst, we finally decided to call our doctor. The rest is a blur, a quick trip to the hospital in North Conway and a blood test led to our new reality. We think Josh has diabetes and the crash course began with a doctor, who uttered those words, “You can do most everything, but you probably can’t eat french fries anymore”. Our family dove in to tackling this challenge.

Josh has an older sister, Jordan, and a younger sister, Ella and our new family reality included tracking carbohydrates, finger pricks, monitoring blood glucose levels, and having insulin supplies and juice boxes handy at all times. How can we help find a cure for type 1 diabetes led us to JDRF. We started our first walk team, Josh’s Jaguars, and attended our first Gala. Cindy or I attended every field trip, coached most sports and sleepovers were a nightmare.

As soon as we felt like we had some control, our oldest daughter, Jordan, who was a high school freshman, started losing a lot of weight, yet found herself eating and drinking more than usual. Jordan secretly suspected she may also have diabetes and began to count her trips to the bathroom at night (remembering this was something Josh experienced). One morning before her final exams, Jordan used Josh’s diabetes testing kit and met us in the kitchen with “I think I have diabetes!”  No way. After a call to our doctor, we couldn’t believe our new, new reality…a second child with T1D!

I’ll never be able to describe the stress a family with T1D experiences, but I’m always grateful for our faith and community of friends, coaches, and family who learned about diabetes and supported our family. Cindy and I have all the worries and concern most parents have, but diabetes adds another level of concern and anxiety.

JDRF has consistently been a source of information and hope and gave us a place to meet others with similar challenges. Our family continued to support JDRF walks and fundraising events, however we wanted to do more. Several years ago, I joined the JDRF Board of Directors and I’m excited to be part of the Greater New England team with so many passionate people. In 2019, Cindy and I hosted our first Seacoast Gala in NH and with the help of sponsors, friends, and family, we were able to raise over $50,000! As we are all aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has put local events on hold. The safety and health of all those around us is most important and we will support all virtual events until the time is right for our second annual event.

Josh, who is now 19 years old, was diagnosed at age 10 and Jordan, who is now 21 years old, was diagnosed at age 15. As a family, we have become accustomed to discussing diabetes daily, tracking blood glucose numbers, keeping our phones on at night in case of low blood sugar alerts, assisting with shots, site changes, faulty devices… (and for the record they can and do eat french fries, but not without taking insulin.) Diabetes never takes a break. However, if you ask either of our kids about having T1D, they will say, “It could be worse”, which is definitely true, but we hope it can be better. Now with college in the equation our personal desire for a T1D cure is even greater. Thank you to everyone who supports JDRF and the continued research funding to find cures for type 1 diabetes.

Written by Bob Durkee.