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Stephen Fry Reveals How a Routine Checkup Lead to Prostate Cancer Discovery

Actor and writer, Stephen Fry, posted a video on his blog today sharing a heartfelt story of how a routine checkup and flu shot lead to the discovery that he had prostate cancer. Since that discovery, he has recently had his prostate removed.

In the video, he tells of thoughts that he wasn’t ‘the sort of person who gets cancer’. He is currently awaiting test results but hopes he is now free of the disease.TV star urges other men to get their prostates checked for the common problem. Check out the video below.

Would you like to know more about prostate cancer? We’ve put together a few resources for you.

Prostate Cancer Foundation

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

American Cancer Society

Mayo Clinic


Would you like to be inspired by cancer warriors in our community? Click here to read our Lyfe Ambassador Jessica Proto’s Lyfestory. Click here to see how Patient Entrepreneur, Dana Donofree, turned her cancer diagnosis into an intimates clothing line that is taking the world by storm!

Lyfestories: “Cancer with a Smile”– Finding Life After Cancer

For many people including myself finishing treatment for cancer can leave you feeling a little lost. You expect to feel over the moon but often end up down in the dumps which can come as a shock. A recent survey by Breast Cancer Care discovered that more than half of breast cancer patients questioned struggled with anxiety after treatment ended and 26% said life after cancer was harder than chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

At this weeks final Moving Forward course with Breast Cancer Care we had a group session with a councillor and all eleven of us said we found life after cancer much harder than we had expected. Initially when treatment stops, being out of the cycle of hospital appointments is unsettling. I found I had got used to the constant care and attention of the nurses and doctors. It was comforting to know they were on hand if you had any problems.

Then treatment stops and its time to get back to your ‘normal’ life, but it just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.

Talking to the other ladies at the course it became clear we all felt a similar feeling of loss but for different reasons. One lady even described it as being like grieving, grieving your old life and body. I could completely relate to this as, for me, hormone therapy and the side effects are something that, ten months in, I am still learning to live with. I feel angry and cheated that, at 35 years old, I am dealing with severe menopausal symptoms while my friends are all having babies. The physical changes that breast cancer brings is another big hurdle many women face. The war may have been won but there are still a lot of casualties to be treated, operations that haven’t gone to plan, unpredictable fatigue and painful scar tissue.

The overall consensus from the group was that the mental scars run far deeper than the ones on our bodies. Many of us feel frustrated that, months after treatment is finished, cancer is still bringing us down but we find it hard to admit this to friends and family. The fear of recurrence is also very raw and many of use don’t trust our bodies anymore, fearing that every little ache or pain is the cancer returning.

Fortunately there are lots of resources out there. Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care both offer courses and counseling that can help cancer fighters deal with life after cancer. I had six sessions of counseling through Cancer Support Scotland which I found really helped get my head in a much better place. We finished the course in a lovely way by writing a letter to ourselves that we will receive in a few months time as a reminder of how far we have come. Our group was keen to stay in touch with each other and the course leader very kindly collected all our phone numbers and email addresses so we can arrange to get together again.

The ‘Someone Like Me’ service that Breast Cancer Care offers is another fantastic way to find someone who has been through a similar experience. It’s also very important to remember our cancer nurses are there for us during and after treatment, so if you have any niggling questions or side effects they are only a phone call away. If you don’t feel happy calling your hospital the Breast Cancer Care Helpline is manned by specialist nurses.

Life after cancer is hard but we are most definitely not expected to handle it alone.

To check out more of Audrey’s amazing work, go here: https://cancerwithasmile.com/

Instagram: @cancerwithasmile

LYFESTORY: Lauren Plunkett, Type 1 Diabetic RDN, CDE, & Fitness Instructor

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), fitness instructor, public speaker, and proudly live my life as a healthy person with Type 1 Diabetes for more than 24 years. Like many of you, my story began with the realization that I needed to change my eating habits and exercise routine. I also needed to wholeheartedly embrace the fact that I have type 1 diabetes, but most of all I simply wanted to live better.

 

I could define myself in many ways based on my experiences, but most of all I am determined, strong-willed, and not a quitter. So, I raised the bar on myself and found a way. Now, my role is to pay it forward and share my knowledge.

 

My professional goal is to support people with T1D of all ages with nutrition education specific to their individual needs with regular exercise. Nothing makes me more excited than to work with athletes with T1D! I am very driven to provide education that I would have found valuable when I was a teenager. My philosophy is evidence-based through sports nutrition research but also from many years of personal trial and error while becoming more physically fit.  

 

One thing I have learned is that people with T1D are all at different stages of glucose management. Some may be thriving with what seems like effortless blood glucose control, while others struggle with the basics. Keeping track of test strips, dosages, and technology, can be so overwhelming! I believe in meeting a person where they are in the learning process because it’s so easy to cave under the pressure of perfect nutrition and an impressive A1c.

 

T1D management is a partnership within all the other aspects of what makes us who we are. Hemoglobin A1c does not define us. We are individuals first. Individuals with unique nutritional needs, interests, and fitness goals.

 

When I present education I often say that I did not become a nutrition expert the very moment I was diagnosed with T1D. It takes a massive amount of effort and will-power to master diabetes and I had my own struggles for years before finding my method of success. And that’s when lifelong health maintenance begins. This is one reason why I see myself in every person I meet with T1D and I am such a fan of anyone putting in the work.  

Social Media :www.lpnutritionconsulting.com

Instagram: @vegetitian

It’s Cancer of the Lymphatic System

I was sat in the ENT department waiting room, dreading hearing my name being called. It all began a month earlier. I had just arrived back home from a long overdue honeymoon. I was well rested and eager to get back to my dream job, which I had not long started. This is when I noticed several lymph nodes on my neck began to swell. I went to see my doctor who urgently referred me to a specialist. After many tests and biopsies, I was awaiting the results.

My name was finally called, my husband and I were escorted into the specialist’s office. We sat down and the doctor said, “There’s no good way for me to tell you, I’m really sorry but you have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Do you know what that is Kate?” I nodded. I had watched a few people go through this horrid disease at a similar age to mine. “It’s a cancer of the Lymphatic System.” I replied. I looked over at my husband, his eyes were wide. We both felt like we had just been hit by a bus. I didn’t cry until we left the doctor’s office. I was trying to process it all in my head; how could this happen.

I was 26, healthy, happy, fit, no history of cancer in my family. Why was this happening. Was this it? I have two young children, are they even going to remember me?

How bad is it? Has it spread to my organs, or my bones? I spent most the journey home asking why, and how.

I felt out of control. To confirm the stage and the treatment plan it could take a month. I could not go through feeling this broken for another month. I decided to take control! I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I started thinking back to some memory or experience that would help me here.

I finally knew why had taken all those nutritional advisor courses. I had done some work in the nutrition field and had studies many cases where dietary change had cured people of certain illnesses. I knew all about the foods I should and shouldn’t be eat. My diet was something I could control. I knew that although curing cancer with diet alone is almost unheard of, if I use my knowledge alongside chemotherapy, I would surely be improving my odds of beating cancer.

Instead of going home we went to the local supermarket and started filling the trolley full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and anything plant based. Completely giving up meat, and dairy for the most part. I began researching about anti-cancer diets, superfoods and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, because I knew that knowledge was power. The best way to win the war is to know your enemy and its plans.

I began chemotherapy on 26th October. My treatment plan was set for 6 cycles, that’s 12 chemo sessions, each two week apart. That amounted to 6 months of going through chemotherapy.

Now I am a person whose glass is always half full even if there is nothing left in the glass. But cancer and treatment has really tested my optimism. But I have learnt to deal with many of the ‘glamorous’ side effect that chemotherapy has brought:

  • Establish a routine – Take the first cycle to familiarise yourself with how you feel and on which day this starts and end. Keep a journal of what you eat, roughly when and what medication you take. Although the time scale and intensity of the side effect can be different after each treatment, overall there will be a pattern. For me the worst is the bone pain which begins on day four or five.

 

  • The 6 P’sPrior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance – It’s a saying that the British army like to drill into the recruits from the very beginning. I find it very fitting for most things in life. Having established a routine, prepare accordingly. If you know you get constipated, take some medicines to prevent this. If you get a sore mouth on day two, start gargling that mouthwash.
  • Drink Water and Eat Plant Based – Water will help flush toxins and drugs out of the system, while plant based nutrition is the most natural and will help heal and mend your body. Refer to your note’s, and figure out which foods make you feel better or worse. There will be many taste bud changes, so eat what you can stomach.
  • Reach out to people I stated an Instagram page @cancerchemocarbs. I wanted to reach out to others who are going through cancer and treatment. If I could help just one person, in any way, I would feel better. I have met some beautiful people. From different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. It really makes you realize that cancer can affect anyone.

 

The most important thing I’ve learned: stop dreaming and start living. For years, my husband and I have spoken of grand plans, and what we want to do, but have never gotten to fulfilling these plans. This illness has happened for a reason, one that in ten years’ time I will know, I’m sure. I am determined and I know that something good will come from this illness. The best view comes after the hardest climb!

 

Empowerment and T1D

I have always been drawn to empowerment. Growing up, I loved the theatre, I loved the ballet, I loved all forms of performance. I think that the primary reason for this was because of how powerful and confident the performers always seemed.

From a very early age, I knew what my purpose was. I was meant to inspire and empower others in this life…. somehow. To me, that was a fact that was never second guessed. The challenge, as it would prove itself to be going forward, was to find out how exactly I would manifest my purpose.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of fourteen. I have lived with the disease for over half of my life now. For a while, my own ability to embrace my inner power felt like it had been robbed from me.

I began to tell stories. It was my way of reaching out, despite my antisocial nature. I told stories through acting in film & television, which eventually escalated into writing fiction, screenplays, and journalism. I told fictional stories as well as the real stories of others – but all the while, my own true story was being written simultaneously.

Organizations such as JDRF and Beyond Type 1 gave me the chance to connect to others who had similar, yet very unique, inner struggles. I became involved in advocacy initiatives that allowed me to engage with these people and to share my own experiences. I began to write for Beyond Type 1, helping others share their own stories with the world. I felt the immense gratification from both sides of the coin, theirs and mine.

This was empowerment, I thought – impacting others with chronic illnesses was, as I realized, what made me feel alive.

The day that KNOW Foods partnered with Beyond Type 1’s Bike Beyond initiative was the day that the puzzle pieces that made up my life would finally and seamlessly come together. I tried this new and interesting healthy food company’s product – low-carb, gluten-free, wheat-free, and non-gmo?! It did not spike my blood sugar and it gave me a truly sustaining energy throughout my days. I knew I had to become a part of this – and so I did.

KNOW Foods’ Founder & CEO, Steve Hanley, recognized my purpose. He recognized how my experiences, leading up to this, would make me the perfect candidate to take on the title of Senior Director of Alliances. I would take the helm would it came to partnerships – with an emphasis on nonprofit organizations that focus on chronic illnesses/disorders such as Beyond Type 1, Beyond Celiac, College Diabetes Network, Autism Hope Alliance, and the list will go on!

I made a vow to myself after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I vowed to make my #1 priority to live my healthiest life, always and forever, and to help others do the same, even those who were not living with a chronic illness. Everything else would come second.

Today, I can confidently say that I am living out my purpose – it simply took realizing that Type 1 diabetes was the center piece of my puzzle –  the most important piece.

diabetes and empowerment

The Highs and Lows of Diabetes

Diabetes is not easy. This is not news to anyone who suffers from this disease, or is close to someone who has Type-1 Diabetes. This life is full of highs and lows.

After being diagnosed at the age of 4, I knew my life would forever change. I vividly remember shortly after I was diagnosed, my babysitter at the time giving me a shot in my stomach. I remember tears streaming down my face as I crutched onto the sides of the chair experiencing a pain that unfortunately would become my new normal.

As a diabetic, we all have those memories that can’t seem to escape our daily reality, both highs and lows.

The day we were diagnosed, a bad hypo that resulted in using a glucagon, or an extreme high blood sugar that led to DKA. How about the moment when you had to leave a friends house because your pump site failed and you didn’t bring extras, sitting and asking the question, “why me?”

When I had initially started my diabetes Instagram, I was at a low point in my diabetes. I was going through another bout of burnout, and I felt like this disease was taking over my life. I needed to make a change; I needed to get out of this low.

I began documenting my every day with this disease. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have a spectacular A1c. I fall victim to blood sugars in the 300’s because I forgot to bolus for that cookie I had at lunch. I eat just about everything in my sight when my blood sugar hits 50. I’m not perfect, and neither is this disease. It is important to be transparent and realistic about this disease. We must remember that even though it feels like we experience these highs and lows alone, we are not alone. It is so important to have a good support system to help us through our lows, and cheer us on during our high moments (unless our blood sugar is 300, then please give us some water).

Despite dealing with many lows, I’ve also experienced many highs. My family grew closer and became very involved with my diabetes. I gained many friends both diabetic and non-diabetic. I was able to attend Camp Needlepoint, work with recently diagnosed children and their families, and use my own experiences to advocate and educate. Through diabetes, I’ve become a more compassionate, and empathetic person. My true passion is to help people, and I have diabetes to thank for that. It’s given me the tools to help others; a helping hand, listening ears, open arms for those who feel hopeless or lost. My mission is to continue to help others and also use this disease to inspire change. One of my biggest mottos is “everything happens for a reason.”

Although I’ve had many low moments, diabetes has given me the opportunity to experience many positives.

I’m thankful for those who continue to support me, and for the numerous opportunities that I’m able to take advantage of.

Diabetes is not easy. There are many highs and lows that we face as diabetics. However, even in your lowest lows, know that there are also sweeter moments ahead.

 

The Shoulder Flop

Keeping our kids safe is every parent’s number one job. Even as an adult I associate protection and safety with my childhood home and my loving parents. It’s a great relief when our children finally learn where to go and who to find when they’re in danger. More than a relief, it’s a proud parental achievement worth celebrating: “We’re super parents! Our kids know where to go when they sense danger!” Mission accomplished, big exhale.

When your kid has a rare neurodegenerative disease causing her balance to worsen every day, the safety of your home is constantly being put to the test. There is no relief, there is no deep exhale. There is only constant heartache with every face-first fall into the brick wall that she once used to pull herself up.

When Susannah was a baby she would flop onto my shoulder and rest quietly for minutes at a time – it was heaven. I live for those shoulder flops. Just after her second birthday we were told this spontaneous cuddling was a symptom of her genetic condition that would eventually cause her to fall. A lot.

Around the time of her diagnosis, we learned that our daughter’s seemingly intentional maneuver of affection was just another implication of her increasingly low muscle tone, or hypotonia. As she grows taller and her gait becomes severely ataxic, constant tumbles are a regular part of our new normal. Not even three years old and her daily bumps and bruises resemble those of a hockey player.

I’m the luckiest guy in the world, for so many reasons. I’m blessed to have a thoughtful, funny, intelligent and kind daughter. The progressive nature of Susannah’s disease might steal away her speech and steps, but she will never lose the sincere and purposeful kindness that is cause for those quiet shoulder flops. I have complete faith in science; however, there are two things I am certain medicine has wrong: that there is no cure for Susannah’s condition, and that those divine shoulder flops have a clinical explanation like “low muscle tone.” She flops onto my shoulder because she loves me. She’s safe there, and she knows it.

…There are two things I am certain medicine has wrong: that there is no cure for Susannah’s condition, and that those divine shoulder flops have a clinical explanation like “low muscle tone.”

This morning one of Susannah’s daily acts of kindness warmed my soul to the core. I was about to walk out the front door when she extended her hand and led me into the bedroom. When we arrived at her bed, she flopped herself onto the mattress and said my favorite words, “Daddy cuddle me.” Before the tears made it from the pit of my stomach up to my eyes, she pulled me onto the bed and we cuddled. One of the best cuddles ever.

After a few minutes Susannah rolled over and said “Daddy I come to bed because it’s safe.” Crushing. The tears returned to the pit of my stomach and became a nauseating feeling of paternal helplessness. Is her bed the only place in our home where she won’t fall and get injured? We haven’t taught Susannah where to go when she feels danger, her disease has. Does she only feel safe in the bottom level of a New York City-sized bunk bed designed to keep her from falling out at night?

There’s no great parental achievement here, no deep exhale celebrating the accomplishment of that essential hurdle: teaching our kids where to go when they’re scared. That badge of honor doesn’t belong to us because we didn’t earn it, her degenerative condition did. When she’s having an especially wobbly day, Susannah knows she immediately needs to return to her bed, or into my arms. The labyrinth of our living room and it’s old, uneven New York floors is overwhelming.

No matter how relentless we are about making our home accessible, Susannah’s movement disorder is responsible for teaching her where to go when she feels the danger of her changing coordination.

I’m thankful to her disease for that — for doing my job in some strange way. For somehow teaching her to be safe.

…But I’d like to meet KIF1A in a dark alley and destroy that monster for stealing away our daughter’s sense of independence.

It’s natural, as kids get older, for those precious extended hugs to become less frequent. That’s one of the deliciously sad parts about watching our children grow up. Not with Susannah. Her genetic mutation is cause for one of my most coveted parts of the day. Selfish, for sure, but if Susannah flops into my arms and rests her head on my shoulder because of a rare genetic anomaly, I’ll accept that. But that’s not the reason. You see, my daughter is a trickster. The real reason she leads me into her bed for a safe cuddle is because she inherited her mother’s beautiful tenderness. She’s more generous than she is cautious. She knows how amazing it makes me feel when she flops on my shoulder. Susannah is a superhero who can fly around the room — and I thank her every single day for deciding to land on my shoulder. And for staying there.


To read more from Luke Rosen visit his blog , and to learn about the rare genetic disease KIF1A, please visit KIF1A.org

Instagram Has Been A Lifesaver Since My T1D Diagnosis

I was 28 when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Like most people, I grew up not really understanding the difference. I thought there was one you got as a child, and one you got as an adult. There is no history of diabetes or autoimmune disease in my family, so honestly, I never really gave either much thought.

Then, I happened to have my yearly physical. Since everything else looked good, and I was always healthy, I lagged on getting my blood work completed. A couple of weeks later I got a really, really heavy period (sorry fellas) and went to urgent care. Long story short, they found multiple fibroid tumors (the largest was the size of a bocce ball) and told me to get that blood work taken care of right away. I got it done that day, which was when the rest of the whirlwind started.

Still thinking I was healthy with nothing to worry about, my husband and I left on a week long climbing/kayaking trip. A few days into the trip, I received a call that my fasting glucose was 300. They assured me it was probably a fluke but said that I needed to come in and have my a1c tested when I got home. During our trip I started to notice some other things- that my close had been fitting looser, and I was drinking a lot of water. We are really active so I thought maybe I just needed to adjust my calorie intake, and it was 4th of July weekend in Arizona so the water intake didn’t seem too odd. I should also mention that for probably 90% of this trip we were without cell coverage- something that still gives me the chills to look back on.

When I got home I had my a1c tested. By this point I had lost 25 pounds. Diabetes was still not even on my radar, in fact my team scheduled CT scans to get a closer look at the fibroids- suspecting cancer. Then my a1c came back at 12.3. I was misdiagnosed as Type 2 for about 6 hours (thankfully not by my doctor). My doctor knows how healthy and active I am, and she ordered a rush test for the antibodies that Friday afternoon. She told if my sugars didn’t go down I needed to go to the ER. That night I tested at 634 and to the ER we went.

I was in DKA, and dangerously close to a diabetic coma. I was immediately given insulin, and Monday was setup with my endocrinologist. A few days later the test confirmed Type 1.

The scariest part for me was how little the medical world seemed to understand about my condition.

When I was diagnosed I immediately researched the difference, and realized a lot of the information I was given in the ER only applied to type 2.

I was thankful that my general doctor knew as much as she did, but fast discovered that was not the norm. This diagnosis is scary enough, but it is worse to feel like you are not always in capable hands. As a newbie, I decided pretty much right away that I needed support of other people who actually knew what they were doing. Instagram and the community I have met through there have been such a life saver for me. I am thankful to have such a great endocrinologist, but there are some things you don’t understand unless you live with it everyday.

I owe so much to this community.

From the helpful tips to the endless support and words of encouragement, this community helps make this doable. It seems so much less daunting when you such an awesome support network. This July will be my first Diaversary, and I am so glad I decided to join this 24 hour support group we call Instagram. 🙂

Mother of Three: Two Kids, and Type 1 Diabetes

Hi! My name is Charlotte, I live in Belgium, am happily married, and am a mother to two beautiful kids.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15. It has been more than 22 years that I have been living with this chronic disease. The first 15 years I helped myself with injections and blood sugar fingerpicks. After that, I finally felt ready for a new chapter in my life : “being a type 1 mother”.

The doctors told me becoming a mother was possible with type 1 diabetes, as long as my blood sugar levels are around 6% (A1c). I was further recommended to change from my usual insulin injections with a pen to an insulin pump.

I was ready for motherhood, but not for the insulin pump.

A device that would make my disease much more visible, compared to a pen which I could hide from everyone. How would I ever go to the beach in my bikini with an insulin pump? Yet another hurdle which took me some time to overcome. But becoming a mother was stronger than my fear of an insulin pump, so I gave it a try.

Three months later I felt myself on top of the world, reaching my a HA1c of 6.2 and becoming pregnant. When I look back at my pregnancy, keeping my blood sugar levels at that level took a lot of energy and generated a lot of stress. However at that time I was living on a pink cloud, as I was really looking forward to that precious moment having my baby in my arms.

This moment of glory and happiness arrived two times to me. First there was my beautiful son named Louis. Three years later I got my wonderful daughter, Célestine, who made me proud for the second time in motherhood. Both are happy and healthy.

Last year, three years after the birth of my daughter, I was feeling down, very tired and had a lot of pain in my belly and intestines. I was suffering from a lot of fatigue and my blood sugar levels were catastrophic.

Four to five hypoglycemia a day were a daily routine. I felt myself so tired and my body needed to rest and to reduce my stress levels significantly.

After consulting my doctor, we decided to take a step back from my hectic day to day life of being a mother of two lovely kids and supporting my husband with his career (thus requiring  frequent traveling and a 13 year carrier in an American multinational, where the stress levels were a daily part of my job).

Due to my doctor’s assessment, a Leaky Gut Syndrome, malabsorption, and my autoimmune disease, I was forced to change my lifestyle (a diet with gluten-, lactose- and egg- intolerances).

By changing my habits and diet, I reached 2 goals: first to become more energetic and pain free, and secondly to stabilize my blood sugars. From that moment, I felt myself more comfortable to embrace my diabetes!

And for now, I am the mother of three: Louis, Célestine and my Type 1 diabetes.

My ambition in the future is to coach and help other diabetes patients in the future in Belgium. I want to do this by showing people that by changing a few lifestyle habits we can get a lot more in this life!

Here in Belgium, diabetics are so afraid to talk and to show the environment about this topic, and I really want to change this. A few months ago , I started an Instagram account to inspire others and motivate others with this disease…. “Charlotte Celebrates life with diabetes type 1 “

Feel free to follow me on Instagram @charlottecelebrates

The purpose is to help myself and others to Celebrate life, by motivating and chowing some color in this sometimes colorless world of diabetes.

Why I Hate Diabetes, But Love Being A Diabetic

Diagnosed just a little over seven years ago, diabetes has become “the norm”. By now, the carb counting, injecting in public, and answering looks and questions from strangers when I stab a needle in my stomach, is all second nature; it doesn’t phase me anymore. But, when I was first diagnosed, at age thirteen, it did. I did not want the world to see me as “disabled”. I thought that if people were aware of my disease, they would see me as weak. Seven years later, I am still the same girl, with the same autoimmune disease, but now, I show the world I am stronger than ever because I am a diabetic.

I was practically born with a tennis racket in my hand. Growing up, there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t in a gym, on a court, or in a field for at least an hour or two.  Sports made sense to me, and I thrived on the heat of competition. When I was taken to the doctor on the morning of January 28, 2010, and soon told I had an autoimmune disease that would potentially hinder my ability to compete at a high level, my earth shattered. My immediate family had no history or real knowledge of T1D, but now I would be surviving on multiple daily injections and religious carbohydrate counting. Cool.

My mother, a tennis coach, urged me to consider “just playing local tennis and volleyball tournaments”, and to not stress if I couldn’t become a Division 1 athlete, my lifelong dream. Her comments and the lack of knowledge my doctor had around competitive athletics and diabetes were my driving force. I realized I would have to train harder and smarter than my competitors, but I didn’t need easy– I needed doable.

Four years later, I ended up graduating high school a year early, at age 17, to accept a tennis scholarship at Seattle University. Since coming to college, in the fall of 2015, I have made diabetes my life. I started the first College Diabetes Network Chapter in the state of Washington, at Seattle University. I started volunteering at my local JDRF chapter, and even babysitting diabetic children. I began experimenting with dietary changes to help negate the highs and lows that can come with poor diet choices. The transition to Division 1 athletics required more of me physically and mentally, and I soon realized optimal diabetes care was more important than ever. By embracing my disease, and advocating as a type 1 diabetic and division 1 athlete, I truly embraced that I was a diabetic, not just someone with diabetes.

I used to hate being associated with the disease and all of the negative impacts it had on my life, but now I rejoice the person diabetes has made me. I realized I cannot change the fact that I am a type 1 diabetic, but I can change how I let diabetes influence my life. I can set a positive example by participating in clinical research, by making healthy dietary decisions, by being active, and by teaching the public about type 1 diabetes and its implications. I can show the world that I am more than diabetes– I am a strong, capable, passionate diabetic.

Yes, diabetes can be grueling, and tiresome, and I would never wish it upon anyone. But, the diabetic community, the friends and connections I’ve made through my broken pancreas, are invaluable. Being a diabetic is the most rewarding, demanding, empowering roller-coaster I’ve ever been on, but I learned how to embrace the ride.

 

Diabetes Doesn’t Control Me

At 49 years old there couldn’t have been a more pronounced time when I needed my mommy most, but at 80 years old she was suffering through her umpteenth battle with cancer and a complicated surgery.  Somehow it didn’t feel right to burden her with my diagnosis.  So there I was, just shy of turning 50, with a life-changing, devastating diagnosis of Type I Diabetes and without my mother to console me. No one can feel your pain or offer support in times of crisis like a mother. As a mother of 2 boys myself who have been afflicted with food allergies, Celiac disease, ADHD and Asperger’s I was no stranger to offering comfort.  I’m just not accustomed to receiving it. I’ve always been strong, emotionally strong I mean.  There was no time for self-pity, for sadness for failure.  Failure meant death.  My friends and family offered support and kindness but no one can really understand the depth of fatigue and fear the disease brings. The persistent need to monitor my blood sugar and account for every scrap of food takes its toll; it’s exhausting.  

Ultimately I made a new best friend, my Dexcom CGM.  I go low in the middle of the night, more often than I should, and definitely more often than I like.  It’s always there for me and I’m thankful for my little pink receiver that wakes me up and shouts EAT SUGAR, figuratively of course.  I’m doing great: still exercising a ton, eating healthy, and living life. My purse is heavier, the TSA screening takes longer and everyone has seen my muffin top when I inject in a restaurant. Despite all that I’m in control.  I’m winning.  Diabetes doesn’t control me.

With Diabetes, You Can Do Anything!

Diabetes has been a part of my life for 22 years. On February 9th, I celebrated my Diaversary. I always knew diabetes wasn’t my purpose, my purpose is to live my life the fullest and that’s what I communicate to all people with diabetes –

“you’re the purpose, not diabetes, so do everything you can to not let diabetes stand in the way of your dreams”.

I have had type one diabetes since the age of 4 (1995). Many people think that I’m used to it because I was diagnosed as I child and I don’t remember life as a healthy person. But as every person with a chronic disease, I dream of a life without it. Unfortunately, I remember some images from the hospital and feelings of pain, fear, and sadness. Till this day I’m afraid of taking venous blood samples for tests in clinics, because of how traumatic it was to me when I was diagnosed.

In the begging I was treated with insulin injections, then I was on insulin pens and in 2003 I got my first insulin pump. Since that time I became a “full-time pumper” with no breaks. For most of the time, diabetes was just a normal part of my everyday life, nothing special. I only experienced some teasing and discrimination in elementary school, but time heals wounds, especially when you meet some nice people after a tough time in your life.

Now I am a Diabetes Youth Advocate, a Diabetes Educator, and a Diabetes Blogger. Raising diabetes awareness is an important issue to me…but how did it happen?

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It all started with my diabetes burnout in 2013 – when my disease “turned 18.” I felt kind of depressed that it’s “an adult” now, and so many years have already passed. I was exhausted and unhappy at that time. One day I thought that maybe I could overcome it with running a blog. I was writing a lot of poems, stories, and songs, so that’s why this idea came to me in a natural way. With the support of my family and boyfriend, the blog was finally created.

I’ve decided that the symbol of my blog will be a blue sugar cube because I think sugar cubes are so cute and of course blue is our color. 🙂 At first, it was only my personal thing, but to my surprise, people started to read my posts! It turned out that I’m not only helping myself but also other people with diabetes, and parents of children with diabetes.

Then many things in my life changed for the better! I received both Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree with honors (in Exhibition Design Study) and my Masters’ diploma was presented on Coming OuT Best Diplomas of Academy of Fine Arts 2014. I also managed to finish my second field of study on the Academy – Pedagogical Study, which allowed me to gain experience in teaching arts and crafts to children, adults, and people with disabilities.

I wanted to use my artistic skills to change diabetes somehow. That’s why in 2014 I have created two adorable monsters – Hypo (blue) and Hyper (red), which represent hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. I wanted to encourage people with diabetes to talk about symptoms and emotions related to those states and to explain to healthy people how it works. Hypo and Hyper were heroes of the calendar which were designed for diabetes clinics in Poland in 2014.

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I’ve started to be involved in many different social campaigns and actions (Menu for diabetic, How to Live with Diabetes, Human Library and more), write articles and feuilletons for diabetes magazines or portals and even lead free lectures and educational meetings for people with different types of diabetes in Polish Diabetes Association. I became certificated Diabetes Educator by participating in course organized by one of the polish diabetes foundations. Recently I founded the diabetes group Blue Sugar Cubes on Facebook to give people with diabetes and their families more support.

Last year was truly a turning point in my life. I was a participant in International Diabetes Federation Europe Youth Leadership Camp 2016 and now I act as IDFE Diabetes Youth Advocate. For World Diabetes Day 2016, together with two friends from camp, we led our first diabetes campaign eUrMOVE in collaboration with IDFE. I designed logo and graphics with Hypo and Hyper. The campaign was a huge success and we look forward to doing more for diabetes cause this year.

Now I only hope that my fiance’s patience will stay on its’ high level forever, because I’m one crazy diabetic girl 😉 With diabetes you can do anything!

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