Age: 23  Year Diagnosed: 2004  Location: Burbank, CA

"I was diagnosed with T1D when I was 11 years old. My mother is a nurse and after I was diagnosed a fellow nurse came over to console my mother. I asked her if I was going to die... because after all it is DI-A-betes. She laughed and then responded with a matter of fact tone saying "no honey you're not going to die, your going to live a long and happy life because it is LIVE-abetes."

Her outlook was encouraging and made me feel like everything was going to be O.K. Unfortunately, I didn't always keep a positive attitude about diabetes as I entered my teenage years. Diabetes made me stand out. It made me feel different and not in a good way. Middle school and high school-aged kids are not always the most supportive and understanding group either. I began to neglect testing my blood sugar to avoid standing out and receiving unwarranted commentary from my classmates. I relied heavily on my parents to order my supplies, remind me to test, and to cook my meals for me.

It wasn't until I moved from Texas to California on my own to attend college in LA that I started to have to fully rely on myself to control my diabetes. In college I studied Nutritional Science. I began learning about the body and how food effects our health. In organic chemistry and biochemistry I learned what composed a carbohydrate and how our bodies utilized that fuel. I also started rock climbing! Something I never thought I would be able to do. As my knowledge and understanding of diabetes grew, I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I began sharing my experiences with diabetes in class. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. My classmates were interested and often stopped me after class to ask me more questions or even share their personal experiences with diabetes. I didn't hide testing my blood sugar anymore. It felt so good to finally be my self.

Last year, I started babysitting a seven year old girl that was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was three. One day, while she sat out of gymnastics class because she was low she told me how much she hated having diabetes. I shared with her my live-a-betes story and told her she can never let diabetes stop her. I wasn't sure if the story resonated with her until about a week later when I over heard her conversation with her dad. "Dad! Guess what?" she said. "What?" Her dad responded. "I don't have diabetes anymore!" she shouted with excitement. Very confused, her dad responded with "Well, honey, unfortunately..." Before he could break the news to her, she shouted:"I have LIVE-a-betes and I'm going to LIVE a looong, happy life!" Her dad grabbed her quickly and gave her a big hug. I walked into the room with tears running down my face replying "That's right, that's right!" Although she still has her awkward teenage years in front of her, I hope she always looks at her diagnosis as live-a-betes. I hope that every time she is feeling burnt-out or fed up with the constant pricks and the sick feelings of highs and lows that she keeps a positive outlook about this condition because our attitudes shape our outcomes. My attitude towards diabetes now? I am thankful because without diabetes, I wouldn't understand what it means to over come challenges or to believe in myself.

Without diabetes I wouldn't be as strong as I am. I wouldn't be able to relate to others and be empathetic. As crazy as it sounds, I wouldn't want to live a life without diabetes. Diabetes has made me who I am today."