Age: 26  Year Diagnosed: 2003  Location: Sylmar, CA

"I wish people could see the individuality of everyone's journey with Type 1. No two people have experienced the same path, so broad statements like "diabetics can't eat sugar" or "people with diabetes can't do that" not only hurt the understanding of Type 1, but the individual's experience with this disease. I feel that none of us will ever be able to fully explain what it's like to live with this non-stop, invasive disease so people need to acknowledge that it can't be fit into a box or defined in one sentence.

I've always had a rough relationship with diabetes. At various points in my life I've tried to erase all aspects of its existence (which we all know is impossible). So I find it very funny that diabetes now is such a huge part of my life outside the fact that I have the disease. I spend my summers at Camp Conrad Chinnock, I write their newsletter every 3 months, I'm on the gala committee, I volunteer for PADRE throughout the year, 80% of my friends have Type 1, and my boyfriend of over 3 years is also diabetic. I find it so amusing that I tried so hard for so long to not have any reminders present that I had this disease, and now my life is immersed in it and it's everywhere I look. I'm so grateful it happened, though, and would not trade my little diabetic community for anything else.

I think the best way to really get through the ups and downs of Type 1 is to surround yourself with others going through the same thing. Not only do you have that support in solidarity, but you have people who can take some of the daily burdens of this disease off of you. If you have other diabetics in your life, you're not explaining the intricacies of your pump, you're not defending your food choices, and you're able to find an understanding in one another that you can't get elsewhere. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be the person I am today, nor would I have such a good relationship with my diabetes, if I hadn't had a big circle of diabetic friends to reach out to."