Age: 20 Year Diagnosed: 2005 Location: Laguna Beach, Ca
"When I was diagnosed in 2005 when I was 9 it was definitely a pretty scary time. I lost a bunch of weight, was sleeping 13 hours a day, thought my athletic career peaked at the age of 8.. and now looking back I think it was such a disaster because hearing "you have diabetes..it's not curable, only manageable" had my little 9 year old athlete mind wondering if I could give up my little finger instead. No one knew the success stories, I'm sure they existed, there just wasn't an easy way for them to step forward. I did the camps, got involved with JDRF, and I had a great time but I hated being labeled as "a diabetic"..Diabetes isn't who I am, I am so much more. I'm the student, the athlete, the son, the brother, the boyfriend, the football fan, the intern, I wear so many different faces without 'diabetes' written on my forehead. That said, I can't deny that it's a part of me and for now, I can't change that, but I can change the way that I think about it. It's allowed me to be more compassionate for people with challenges, be more forgiving of myself and the people around me, and serves as a constant reminder that through good times and bad I'm not a quitter and I will succeed. Are there days that I wish I didn't have to prick my finger 4 times or think about putting on a site and making sure I ate the right amount of protein and carbs so I can go out and not worry about diabetes? Absolutely. But it's helped me learn so much about myself - how I approach challenges, how I manage my time, how to make myself heard when I need something, how to take care of my body - that instead of rolling over and letting this disease consume me, it's been a constant fire that continues to fuel even bigger investments in myself to succeed. I think it's great that you're using your photography and social media to help raise awareness and change the stigma..."