Age: 20 Year Diagnosed: 2000 Location: Danville, Ca

“For as long as I can remember, my life has been a never-ending cycle of checking, counting, dosing, treating, volunteering, and hating my diabetes with the white-hot rage of ten thousand suns. Since I was barely a year old when I was diagnosed, I have no clue what it’s like to live without T1D - I don’t know what it’s like to eat a meal without turning it into a math problem, or how it feels to go to bed at night without the underlying worry that my pancreas might try to murder me in my sleep. For the longest time, I believed that there was no version of myself that existed independent of my disease. I couldn’t help but feel that it defined everything about me, and I couldn’t stand it. It weighed on me, until I felt like I was drowning; until the burnout was so overwhelming that I didn’t care for the person I was anymore. It wasn’t until recently - at a JDRF Young Adult Conference - that I realized that I was torturing myself for no reason. Of course having diabetes has defined me. I mean, how could it not? But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It has shaped me, pushed me, motivated me, broken me, and remade me into a force to be reckoned with. Because of my struggle with Type 1 Diabetes, I know now that there is no obstacle I cannot overcome, no hardship I cannot endure, and no goal I cannot reach if I put my mind to it. I’ve spent most of my life fighting against this disease, but let’s be real: you can’t beat the ‘betes. Moving forward, I know now that it’s not about being stronger than diabetes. It’s about being strong WITH diabetes.”