Age: 24 Year Diagnosed: 1997 Location: Orange County, Ca

"For a long time, I struggled with the fact that I have a disease with the ability to kill me. I didn't want to believe I could die so easily. I didn't want to believe I could go blind. I didn't want to believe I could lose a limb, or fall victim to nerve and kidney damage. So I rejected it. I refused to take my insulin and hardly ever tested myself. The times I decided to check myself, my blood sugars were higher than a kite, and I constantly suffered from headaches. I regularly skipped my insulin intakes. I thought that maybe, just maybe, it would go away if I ignored it. My diagnosis made me feel depressed. I hated that I was different. I felt like I had nothing to live for, that diabetes was just going to kill me anyways, so I might as well let it.

A short while later, I visited the doctor again, but something about that appointment felt different. My results were less than ideal; my A1C results came back at 13, and then something clicked. I realized I would no longer let diabetes control my life. I decided to take control and understood how much life I still needed to live. From that moment on, I swore to take care of myself and keep a positive outlook. I buckled down, monitored my blood sugars and kept up with my insulin intakes. By the next doctor’s appointment, I brought my A1C down from 13 to 8.5, feeling more like positive Pete than negative Nancy.

Despite my struggle with diabetes throughout my child and adolescent years, I wouldn’t wish my life any different. Diabetes taught me to be a better person; how to harness my inner strength and see both the beauty and importance of life, no matter the situation. Without diabetes, I wouldn’t have learned, from an early age, the effects different food have on our bodies. I wouldn't know what it feels like to be so low that you feel like you're having an out of body experience, or so high that you are being a bit too grumpy from your blood sugar being off. I always believed diabetes would hold me back for the rest of my life, but now I can’t imagine my life without it. Diabetes is about resilience, strength, and self-acceptance. It won't hold you down, rather, help you get back up. It’s about bouncing back when your blood sugar is too high or too low. It’s about overcoming the any challenge life throws at you. Diabetes is what empowered me, to be me."