Age: 24 Year Diagnosed: 2005 Location: Dallas, Tx
"I had the unique experience of growing up familiar with Type 1 Diabetes, and I think this has definitely shaped the way that I view this disease. My dad was the marketing director for Medtronic Diabetes from 1998 until three months before I was diagnosed in 2005 at age 12. As a kid, I grew up going to work with him and meeting kids on insulin pumps, I attended the JDRF walk in Los Angeles to help run the Medtronic booth, and I used to pose with infusion sites in our front yard when he needed stock photos. Nicole Johnson was our family friend! So when I complained to my mom about being thirsty and having to pee all the time, she already knew what it was and didn’t let me eat carbs until we saw the pediatrician. My blood sugar was only 230, and I went straight to the endocrinologist’s office, where he gave me a shot, sent me to In-n-Out for a burger, and told me to come back later for outpatient education. At In-n-out, my dad said to me, “this is not a roadblock, it’s just an inconvenience”, and that’s how I’ve viewed it since! I immediately started on an insulin pump and a few months later had taken over managing all of my own care. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by an environment where diabetes didn’t even enter my mind when two years later, at age 14, I asked my dad if we could run a marathon! I have been involved in the diabetes community for years, both formally and informally. I ran a half marathon with Team Children with Diabetes in 2009, and have been a diabetes camp counselor since 2007. My first marathon was at age 14, and I went on run a total of 5 as Head Captain/President of the marathon team in college at USC. Two of my other marathon teammates were also Type 1 Diabetics! And one of my college roommates was diagnosed three months before our freshman year. And our other roommate’s dad was Type 1! Through whatever circumstances I have always been surrounded by others who understood and supported this disease. So it wasn’t until I went to medical school that I realized the magnitude of the impact that this disease can have on your life! At my new medical center I started seeing an endocrinologist that pushed me to get my A1c from the 7% range to the high 5%-low 6%; at the same time I discovered the diabetes online community. With my new perspectives as an early medical professional connecting with others who had not had the same experiences as me, I felt that I was able to better understand how my future patients and peers with T1D view chronic illness. When I saw in 2017 that Beyond Type 1 was recruiting marathon runners, it seemed like a natural fit for me and I signed up without question. What I didn’t expect was being able to witness how transformative this experience would be for my fellow runners with T1D who had not previously felt capable of such a physical feat. I realized that everyone needs a strong community with positive and empowering T1D role models, like I had growing up. This, coupled with a desire to expose my peers in medicine to the practicalities of T1D, is what inspired me to publicly train for my 6th and 7th marathons while talking about diabetes management, exercise, and living your life well not despite disease but because of it. I know I've been lucky in a lot of ways, and I don't pretend to truly know what it is like to feel isolated and controlled by this illness. But it is my hope that by sharing my story and perspectives, I can make someone else's a little brighter."