Age: 22 Year Diagnosed: 2008 Location: Los Angeles, CA
"When I was first diagnosed as a teenager, I remember thinking that diabetes would be isolating. I didn't think anyone would understand the daily battles or highs and lows. I was afraid it would cause a deep disconnect between myself and friends, family, or anyone really.
The wonderful irony is that in the years since then, I've actually experienced the very opposite. By sharing my experiences and meeting other Type 1s, I've felt deeper bonds than I could have ever imagined.
In college, I met an incredible group of diabetic individuals and was able to help create Cal Poly's Type 1 Diabetes club. We participated in Santa Barbara's JDRF Walk and would have monthly potlucks. We shared amazing laughs, support, and memories that I will forever cherish. Proud to say the club grows every year and is still going strong today.
Through the club, I was fortunate enough to meet a family in need of a nanny for their Type 1 daughter. I was blessed to babysit the strongest, sweetest girl for over 3 years. We played pretend with our pumps (hers pink & mine black) and would always test our sugar together. They became a second family to me, and Gemma will always be a light in my life.
One of my younger cousins, Luke, was also diagnosed a few years after myself. We are the only Type 1s in our family, so naturally we're dia-besties. He's brave, charismatic, imaginative, hilarious - and ultimately inspires me to be the best role model possible.
All of these relationships - and more - have molded my view of diabetes from an isolating illness, into a unifying condition. The people I've met through the years have given me the confidence to share my experiences with non-diabetics as well, and have made me stronger and more hopeful as a human. I wouldn't trade the amazing bonds that I've made because of diabetes for the world.
Don't be shy about being diabetic. As easy as it is to feel insecure, it will open doors you couldn't imagine and lead to some amazing relationships. I've never once ended up regretting bringing up the topic, and you might just end up providing the hope or kindness that someone really needed."