Working in public relations, I frequently find myself advocating on behalf of clients and their causes.
This year, I find myself advocating for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). But this time it isn’t about business; it’s personal. My 2-year-old niece, Kylie, is a Type 1 Diabetic.
Shortly after her first birthday, Kylie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, or T1D for short. According to JDRF, T1D occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys certain cells in the pancreas. When these cells are destroyed, no insulin can be produced, and the glucose stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to all the organ systems of the body.
While I had done some work with clients on behalf of JDRF in the past, I don’t think I had a genuine appreciation for what it meant to be a diabetic.
T1D means multiple injections daily, or having insulin delivered through an insulin pump. It means testing the person’s blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. It means carefully balancing food intake and exercise to regulate blood sugar levels in an attempt to avoid hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions, which can be life threatening. It means everything you eat or don’t eat can make you either very sick or put you at serious risk for injury, and even death.
All of this is a considerable challenge for an adult. Managing such a disease on a daily basis for an active 2-year-old is beyond comprehension.
My brother and his wife must monitor when and what Kylie eats and drinks at all times. They need to understand a raft of medical terms and side effects that seem baffling to the outside world. They must be ever vigilant for the slightest non-verbal cues from my niece to gauge whether she is too high or too low. And they must wake up in the middle of the night to prick the finger of a little sleeping princess to ensure while she sleeps, she is not in any immediate danger from her own body.
As I said, I had no real appreciation for what it meant to be a diabetic before all of this became a reality for my family. But I’m beginning to understand it a little more every day.
I also know medical research – and the dollars supporting such research – are critical to keeping millions of kids safe and healthy. With the advances being made each day, we can’t afford to miss a single opportunity to further the cause of a more manageable treatment or, better yet, a cure.
So I ask you to consider making a donation to JDRF either through my family’s JRDF page for the 2012 Bucks County Walk for the Cure on Oct. 28 or through the JDRF home page.
Please give because it’s not about business. It’s most definitely personal.