Living With TYPE 1 DIABETES A Mindset Of Acceptance

Written by Melissa Gray.

Melissa Gray
No-one’s life is perfect, everyone has challenges and diabetes is just one of mine. I can’t control it or change it so I have accepted it and continued living my life.
Melissa Gray, 2009- Living Well Magazine

As I enter my eleventh year with type 1 diabetes, I can joyfully say that I have lived up to these hopeful words of the young, open-minded, and maybe even somewhat naïve 14-year old girl who wrote them upon entering high school.
Now, as a more mature, experienced, and maybe even certifiably professional type 1 diabetic, I continue living with a mindset of acceptance and resilience through my journey with type 1 diabetes.

Since we last spoke, I have navigated overcrowded hallways, survived the terrors of high school dances, and passed my driver’s ed exam. I even did relatively well on the SATs and gained acceptance into the honors program at my first choice college. And yes, as a pre-med student, I even managed to pass organic chemistry.
Although somewhat triumphant, these accomplishments have not been the true highlights of my high school and college years. I have had other experiences that I hold much closer to my heart.
Upon entering college, I was brave enough to inform my orientation group that I have diabetes before giving myself an insulin shot in front of them. In doing so, I met two amazing girls on my same hall who also have type 1 diabetes. We got together and started a club on our campus through the national Students With Diabetes organization. Through this organization, I was able to attend a national conference in Tampa, FL, where I met a variety of inspirational people living with diabetes. As a club we have been able to reach out to over fifty college students affected by diabetes. I am also planning a type 1 diabetes event for the local community in Harrisonburg, VA titled “Life’s Too Sweet: A workshop for a better life with type 1 diabetes.”

During the summer, I have volunteered as a counselor at Camp Setabaid at Mount Luther, where I was able to support and help care for 12-14 year olds with type 1 diabetes. I also volunteered at the University of Delaware’s Kamp for Kids, a summer camp staffed with nurses and nursing students to welcome children with type 1 diabetes.

Through all of these experiences, I have become so inspired by the spirit of children living with type 1 diabetes. They are different than any other children and they hold a special place in my heart. This year at Kamp for Kids, I witnessed a 4-year-old camper giving himself an injection for the first time. I was immediately overcome with joy for him- not only joy for his accomplishment, but joy for his future. I know that with rapidly advancing diabetes technology, he will face even fewer challenges than those before him.

Through every interaction with people affected by type 1 diabetes, I have become even more inspired to pursue my future career goal of becoming a pediatric endocrinologist. I have come to learn that there is a special bond shared between two people living with similar daily struggles. I hope to take advantage of the unique gift I was given to relate to children with diabetes in a way in which most doctors are unable. As I look into the future, I am excited to grow in my understanding of diabetes and its purpose in my life.

Melissa Gray (front, center) is currently a junior Biology/Pre-Med major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She is one of the founding members of the JMU Students With Diabetes chapter (pictured below). Although type 1 diabetes presents challenges to the typical college lifestyle, Melissa is motivated by her dream to become a pediatric endocrinologist and is continually supported by her friends and family.
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