Steps Toward A ‘Normal’ Life
Wednesday - November 11, 2009 Share
By Lori McCarney, Board President
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Thousands of finger pricks is just the beginning.
Just to stay alive requires an ongoing routine of injections, infusion-site changes, carbohydrate counting, HbA1c tests, blood glucose monitoring and more.
This is the life of kids who live with type 1 diabetes. It’s not a normal life, although kids and their families bravely attempt to do everything they can to make it so.
In Hawaii, we estimate that 5,000 kids and adults struggle with this disease. Their need is often overshadowed by the nearly 100,000 Hawaii residents who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The Hawaii chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is part of an international organization whose primary purpose is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications. As is often misunderstood, children with type 1 diabetes can’t treat their diabetes by exercising more or eating less sugar. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, the insulin needed by the body to transform blood sugar into energy in order to survive.
Promising research, wherever it is conceived, is supported by the monies raised by this organization through fundraising and federal government sponsorship. Since its inception in 1989, JDRF’s Hawaii chapter has raised more than $6 million for diabetes research.
JDRF also supports local kids and families. Training and education sessions are held on an ongoing basis. Newly diagnosed families are personally visited by veteran type 1 families who bring a “bag of hope” and a connection to people who can provide guidance and support. Meetings with athletes who are coping with diabetes, such as Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Race Across America cyclist Matt Vogel, help kids see that they’re not alone and that they can excel.
Diabetes is fast emerging as one of the most serious health problems of our time. A cure is the only hope kids with type 1 diabetes have to live a truly normal life.
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