Juvenile diabetes—the ‘new normal’

Rachel Cannonis a marketing and communications consultant in Sacramento.

For more information about the April 28 fund-raiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, visit www.modcom.com or call (916) 368-2643.

It started with moodiness. My then-6-year-old daughter had sometimes been a handful, but nothing like the rages and tears I was seeing. Next I noticed she was thirsty all the time and her face seemed thinner. But when, on a road trip to Los Angeles, she had to stop every half hour to find a bathroom because she was drinking so much water, we knew something was seriously wrong.

I thought it would be a bladder infection. Instead, it was Type I diabetes, an as-yet incurable condition which causes lifelong insulin dependency and the risk of serious side affects as she grows older. As a mother, I was devastated. My little girl’s carefree childhood was officially over at the age of 6 years and two months.

Unlike the more common Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 is an auto-immune disease that destroys the body’s ability to produce insulin, a hormone used to convert sugar in the bloodstream into energy. Type 1 diabetics must constantly monitor their blood-sugar levels and inject insulin in order to stay alive. This means my daughter pricks her finger six-plus times a day and gets a shot after every meal. Injecting insulin is not a cure, however, nor does it prevent the devastating potential complications like kidney failure, blindness and heart disease.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the leading charitable funder for Type 1 diabetes research worldwide. JDRF has awarded more than $1 billion to researchers attempting to cure diabetes and its complications, including $122 million in 2006. Eighty percent of all funds raised go directly to research. All agree that we are very close to a cure.

My daughter is now 9, and diabetes has become the “new normal” for our family. Sleepovers, class field trips and trying to keep her insulin doses balanced still pose day-to-day challenges. Most of the time, she deals with her condition with an enviable amount of poise and practicality; she’s a tough cookie. But I hope she won’t have to be so tough for much longer.

Modcom, a Rancho Cordova marketing and communications firm, will celebrate 15 years in business by holding a JDRF benefit on April 28. Join us in finding a path to the cure—and a return to a more “normal” normal for children like my daughter.