4 years ago when my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12, I never would have thought joy could come from it. We were saddened, confused and unsure about the future. Once we felt like we were starting to figure it all out, our daughter was diagnosed. Devastation is an understatement for how I felt. She was 4 years old and could not understand the need for insulin, why she had to get shots, or why she couldn’t just have snacks whenever she wanted anymore. Unlike our son who was older, she could not understand the science of diabetes so all she saw was pain and shots. She would cry at every single poke and we just had to tell her it was going to be ok.
Through the next several months she began to understand the disease more and learned to live with this new life. We celebrated every little victory. The first time she did her own finger poke, first time she didn’t scream during an injection, then that turned into the first time she didn’t cry, to the first time she didn’t flinch. At each stage, we saw her bravery and courage shine through.
Both Craig and Madi would go each day with 6-8 shots and up to 9 finger pricks. They had to push through each one because they had things they wanted to do. They didn’t want to sit around and be sad about it, they wanted to continue living. This inspired me. I reached out to other families with type 1 children. I quickly realized that this new life was difficult but we weren’t the only ones going through this. People do this every day.
As a photographer, I wanted to reach out to other type 1 diabetics and give them a voice, hear their story. That’s how Heroes of Type 1 started. It started out with me photographing small moments of my own children and how they were coping with this disease. In the past 2 years, I’ve been able to meet and photograph over 70 type 1 diabetics from ages 3 to 73. I loved meeting these new families and seeing the strength in them. I began to notice something common in each Type 1 diabetic, something that made my heart so happy, and something I felt I could see in the eyes of each subject in my project.
There is a common factor in these brave and courageous people. It is a common factor I see in my own two children with type 1 diabetes. They want to win. They’re not willing to give in and let diabetes overshadow their dreams, goals or achievements. Yes it’s hard and of course, there are terrible days and trying times in this disease, days I have cried at 2 am when one of my kids has a low and the other is 400. I won’t say it’s easy by any stretch of the imagination. It is hard, but we must move on from that. Diabetes takes away their sleep, their freedom, part of their childhood, their innocence and the free spirit of a child with no worries.
What these courageous people won’t let it take away, that is the common factor. Diabetes can’t take away their power, their strength, or their dreams. They have that power over T1, the power to overcome it.
Four years ago, I was down, upset, devastated at what my kids life would become. I was worried at how we would cope, how would they cope? Will they be ok? But today, I know they will. They will fight through those difficult days, brave through the finger pokes and insulin shots, push forward the research for a cure, and reach those dreams they have!
Through the constant shots, finger pokes, stresses, worry, carb counting, Endo visits, hospital stays and the highs and lows, they remain strong. They fight through every single day. Doing this is a choice. Getting diabetes is not a choice. There is nothing they can do to prevent it or stop it but choosing to live their life and be happy is a choice that they can make. Dealing with diabetes is difficult. It is a hard, relentless and a never ending disease with no cure and that is part of what makes these brave heroes so inspiring. They refuse to give up. They refuse to let diabetes win. They will prevail through their dreams and achievements by showing others their strength through this difficult disease. Through their efforts they inspire their families, teachers, coworkers and their teammates! And that brings me so much joy. Their inspiration is something to share!
Please follow Heroes of type 1 on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Heroes-of-Type-1-1666905883594202/?ref=bookmarks and Instagram #heroesoftype1project