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Melissa, a 14  year old type 1 diabetic, is currently a freshman at a regional high School.  She enjoys playing with her puppy King Henry, playing tennis and having fun with friends. She is also involved in volunteering for JDRF and feels that her future calling is to be an endocrinologist. Even though she faces day to day challenges with her disease, Melissa lives a pretty normal life with the help and support of her friends and family.

As many as 3 million Americans may have Type 1 Diabetes.  Each year more than 15,000 children are diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. That’s 40 children per day.

As I approach the end of my fourth year with diabetes, I begin to think about how it has affected me. I was diagnosed on August 3, 2005 at age 10. Since then, I have gained a much better understanding of the disease and the long term effects it could have. That’s the scary part to me, how it will effect me when I’m older. This is reason enough for me to try my hardest to do a good job taking care of myself. It really isn’t easy though, for anyone with diabetes, it can be more difficult than anyone without diabetes can understand. I remember when I was having a tough time a little while back and I was so aggravated because as much as my mom tried, she still couldn’t totally understand what I was going through.

When I was diagnosed, my mom promised me that she will do everything she can to make diabetes change my life as little as possible. She really has lived up to this and for that I thank her so much. She’s gotten up every other hour of the night to test my blood sugar and I don’t even know how many times she left her work to come get me from school when my sites weren’t working. My family members are great support to me and have really helped me keep my head held high through everything.  

JDRF has helped me get in touch with other diabetics who do understand. It’s nice talking to someone with similar problems and to see how they handled them. It also gives me a place where I feel like I belong. The JDRF Walk is actually a highlight to my year. My friends and I really look forward to it. I like to know that I’m helping towards a good cause but not just for me, for all of the other people who are going through the same thing as well. I really hope there will be a cure in the near future. I am walking again at this year’s Walk on October 18th in Rockford Park and all my friends and family will join me.  The Walk is so much fun because it’s a huge family party and picnic.  It’s free to register and if you raise even just $100 you get a really cool shirt and other prizes.  This year the theme is baseball and I am going to design a shirt and enter it in the T-shirt contest!

Diabetes to me isn’t a word that describes me and it’s not a label for me. It’s just a part of me that I live with. My friends are very accepting of it because I’m not ashamed of it or scared to let people know that I have it. I have to mention one person that has been there by my side since I was diagnosed and her name is Sarita. We weren’t close friends when I was diagnosed, but she made me a card as soon as she found out and became a real friend. Since then, we have grown to be best friends and she has gained a complete understanding of diabetes; from being able to tell when I need to test, to even giving me a few insulin shots. I strongly encourage newly diagnosed diabetics to be open about their diabetes because if you are okay with it, everyone else will be. 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.

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