This post is a little longer than I usually include, but some stories aren’t easily made bite-sized!
Isn’t this a handsome (I’d say beautiful, but he might not approve) young man?
This is Jack, an active and charming 5-year old with an abundance of interest and little boy curiosity. He goes to school and plays on a soccer team and has a full and very active life. He loves his mom and dad, his twin sister, Scarlett, and his cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles and a big wide circle of friends.
But I’m not sure Jack knows how many, many people love him!
I doubt he’s even once thought about how many of us have loved him since before he was born.
Jack’s mom, Dani, has been an invited member of our family since she and Aimee formed a special and lasting friendship that first day of Kindergarten so many years ago. And in the blink of an eye, here we are in 2014 and Jack, Scarlett and our Karina are that same age. Kindergarten is such an exciting time in a child’s life as they transition from total dependence on family and begin to form separate friendships, not to mention establishing a special relationship with their teacher.
For many children and their parents it’s the first time, when at least during school hours, there is a perceived sense of independence. Often it is a parent’s initial introduction to “letting go” and for the child, an opportunity to experience space away from the scrutiny and security of home.
Type I diabetes throws Jack a few additional curves.
It surprises me how often I hear people confuse the facts and fail to distinguish between Type I and Type 2 diabetes. No lifestyle or diet change will “cure” Jack’s Type I diabetes (T1D). He was diagnosed at 2 years of age and with all of his mom and dad’s vigilant monitoring he still has times throughout each day and during the night when his monitor alarm signals a warning resulting in the need to test his blood. Ouch!
If you had read Dani’s letter sharing a descriptive snapshot of their daily life and dedication to managing Jack’s care (HERE) I have no doubt you’d have signed up to join Aimee, Sophia, Karina and me as we followed with Team Jack’s Jiants for last Sunday’s JDRF flagship fundraising walk/event at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Dani, and husband, Mike, are very active fundraisers, spokespersons and supporters for JDRF–-the leading global organization funding T1D research–together and individually volunteering hundreds of hours with support engagements throughout the year. For some of us, a once-a-year walk is the least we can do, and provides a time to reflect a bit further on what this disease means to children like Jack, and the many adults who have lived with T1D over most of their lifetime.
JDRF publishes these statistics;
- As many as three million Americans may have T1D.
- Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults—approximately 80 people per day—are diagnosed with T1D in the U.S.
- Approximately 85 percent of people living with T1D are adults, and 15 percent of people living with T1D are children.
- The prevalence of T1D in Americans under age 20 rose by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.
- The rate of T1D incidence among children under age 14 is estimated to increase by three percent annually worldwide.
- T1D accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.
At certain points along the walk route I really grasped the fact that each person, and there were multiple thousands at the walk, came in support of someone in particular. I paid a lot of attention to the messages and T-shirt tributes and thought about those individuals and their families.
Participants filled the stadium with hopeful energy. Even the dogs were encouraged to enjoy a quality day.
And it was a quality day. Team Jack’s Jiants raised more than $38,000 and that’s a considerable sum for one event. And is there a reasonable expectation that research will lead to a cure?
Impressive bio-medical technologies offer hope in many areas. There is a race to produce the first artificial pancreas–one of my favorite t-shirts read, “Pancreas Shmancreas.”
Emerging results from stem cell research offer promising steps forward. Other technologies are nearing the clinical trial phase.
There is every reason to be hopeful that Jack, at only 5, will one day be able to manage his disease with simple and straightforward, non-threatening protocols.
I’ve previously written about another of our young friends, Aimee, and her experience with Type 1 diabetes. I have a dear friend from childhood who has spent a 60-plus year lifetime managing this disease. And then there’s Jack and his family who have taught me a lot about what it means to take those curve balls and throw them right back.
I’m reasonably certain everyone knows at least one person hoping for a cure, and whether you can walk and support a team or not, we can all learn a little more and offer support in listening to what they might want you to know about their relationship with the disease.
It’s a lot to take in, but this was primarily a very hopeful event.
Recommended reading: One of the best articles about the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.