I’m a day late and two posts behind (sorry Karen!) since I was at the Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women conference in Raleigh this weekend but this is a great topic and I also didn’t want to miss the grand finale of Diabetes Blog Week. Day 7’s topic is this: “Let’s end our week on a high note and blog about our “Diabetes Hero”. It can be anyone you’d like to recognize or admire, someone you know personally or not, someone with diabetes or maybe a Type 3. It might be a fabulous endo or CDE. It could be a d-celebrity or role-model. It could be another DOC member. It’s up to you – who is your Diabetes Hero??”
There are many, many people in the diabetes community that I admire and look up to. The parents of children with diabetes. The athletes. The mothers with diabetes. So many others wo do not fall into these categories but are awesome just the same. However, my diabetes hero is, and always will be, my father.
Plain and simple a good part of his life sucked because of diabetes. He had gastroparesis that interfered with his digestion. He had retinopathy that took most of his vision. He had heart disease which caused him to have multiple heart attacks and congestive heart failure. He had neuropathy that lead to the amputation of one his legs. He had kidney disease that lead him to a short period of dialysis. All of these things ultimately lead to him losing his life from diabetes. But not without a fight.
Sure he struggled with a great deal of depression and negative viewpoint. He also blamed himself for my diagnosis. I couldn’t begin to imagine how guilt like that feels. But he didn’t want me to have the same attitude. I have no doubt that my diabetes life would not be the same if it weren’t for him. Maybe even unknowingly, he paved the way for me to stay positive.
It may have taken me a while, but I live with diabetes better because of him. I take care of myself knowing what could happen but doesn’t have to happen. The empty spot in my heart that has been there since he passed away is also full of admiration for him. For the way he fought against all those complications he endured. He will always be a hero in my eyes.
When I was at the JDRF Research Summit last month, the main focus of the presenters was the progress, current efforts and complexity of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. There was also mention by Dr. Desmond Schatz (Professor and Associate Chairman of Pediatrics, Medical Director of the Diabetes Center and Director of the GCRC at the University of Florida, Gainesville) of the need for people in the diabetes community to get involved in research studies. And this makes sense. If doctors and researchers cannot identify the cause and possible factors that cause diabetes, they will not be able to cure it. I hate to admit that in my 30 years of living with type 1 diabetes, I have not participated in any research. But I changed that recently.
TrialNet had representatives at the summit and I approached them to see if there were any research opportunities for twins and type 1 diabetes. If you’ve never heard of TrialNet, “Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet is an international network of researchers who are exploring ways to prevent, delay and reverse the progression of type 1 diabetes. TrialNet was established in response to the Surgeon General’s Report Healthy People 2000. This report identified diabetes as a national health objective for the Nation. In response to the report, Congress created the Diabetes Research Working Group (DRWG) to develop a plan for diabetes research. One recommendation of the DRWG was to conduct additional research studies (clinical trials) to prevent type 1 diabetes.” “TrialNet is conducting clinical trials with researchers from 18 Clinical Centers in the United States, Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, more than 150 medical centers and physician offices are participating in the TrialNet network. Studies are available for people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, as well as for relatives of people with type 1 diabetes who are at greater risk of developing the disease.” So of course they organize a study for type 1 diabetes and twins. If you don’t know already, I have an identical twin sister who does not have diabetes. And if you think about us developing from the same egg, having nearly identical DNA, having the same environmental influences both in my mother’s womb and growing up, not to mention having the same father who had type 1 as well, it makes me wonder why my beta cells destroyed themselves but not my sister’s. (Not that I am in ANY way wishing she had it too. This is strictly a scientific marvel) Both my sister and I gave blood samples that were mailed to TrialNet for the to test for certain antibodies related to type 1 diabetes. I was very happy to take part in research that will help the mission of finding a cure for diabetes. Even if I don’t see the cure in my lifetime, it would please me to know that I helped people after my time.
Research is very critical to finding a cure for diabetes. And who better to help with that research than those of us already living with the condition? Please check out TrialNet’s website (https://www.diabetestrialnet.org/index.htm) and see what clinical trials you would be able to participate in. It will benefit the entire diabetes community!
image credit: JDRF
Today is No D Day which is a great idea started by the D ninja himself, George. And on that note, here is my No D Day post.
Joe and I do not have children and if you know me, you know that is not at all a light subject to me. But there are two little people in my life that mean just as much to me as my own children would. There are two initials tattooed on my right middle finger – JK. That is for them. My niece and nephew. The children who were born into this world by my twin sister and her husband. And I am blessed to be their aunt and godmother. They bring such joy to my life and are one of the biggest treasures of my world. Maybe I feel a deeper bond with them because I don’t have a child of my own. But whatever the reason, I would do anything for these two. J and K, Auntie Stacey loves you 🙂