When I was a child, I didn’t know that there were other kids like me. With Diabetes. I was genuinely shocked around the age of 10 (five years into my disease) when my parents too me to the Diabetes Research Institute in downtown Miami. We participated in a “group” where kids and parents got together and learned how to deal with the disease and each other.
At least I think that’s what it was. I was 10, remember.
During this time, I met some people who continue to surround my development as a Type 1 Diabetic. Gary Kleiman who is now the Executive Director of Medical Development at the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute is one. I met medical social worker Wendy Satin. I met a girl just a few years older than me that was also struck with the disease. Debbie Singer.
Debbie Singer was my first friend who had Diabetes. She was funny and sweet. She was a good friend. She died at the age of 33, in 2001. Her death, devastated me. Although life had taken us in separate directions, she was like me. A young girl with a disease, trying to figure it out.
I saw her mother, Barbara, recently at a Diabetes Research Institute fundraiser. She was speaking with my father and I made my way over to give her a hug and talk a bit. I felt such bittersweet emotion telling her about my daughter and life. On one hand, I know that she probably wants to hear about people thriving in spite of having Diabetes. On the other, I am sensitive to that reoccurring pang of loss that she must feel every day. I commend her for all that she and her husband Sheldon have done for the DRI in Debbie’s memory. The Singers are one of the original five founding families of the DRI Foundation. For that and so much more, I thank them.
Later in life, I met a man through work who also had the disease. He was adventurous and charming, covering travel for NBC 6 in Miami and then onto his own company. His name was Joel Connable and he died at 39 years old, in November, 2012. It has been reported that Joel either died from a malfunctioning insulin pump or from a Diabetic seizure. Any way you look at it, it’s bad news. He was a delightful guy and he deserved better.
We all do.
Those aren’t my only friends with Diabetes. I have met 100′s of people over the years who either have the disease or have been touched by it. Parents who struggle to manage their children’s Diabetes management. Adults who are diagnosed and in denial. It’s hard to change every single thing about the way you live, after you’ve been doing it one way for so long. I have kids at Zoe’s aftercare who are new to the disease. I have a friend who is an Olympian with the disease, and it’s hard for him sometimes too.
It’s hard for my parents. I have had this disease for 38 years and I know, because now I am a parent, that their fear is palpable. I know that they worry. I know that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not always in super tight control, but I’m living my life. Most of the time I am in great control though. If there were anything I could do to take that misery and worry away from them, I would. The only thing that’s going to do that is a CURE.
A few months ago, my friend Crystal Blaylock Sanchez contacted me about her annual fundraiser, the Shell Key West Challenge, to support the Diabetes Research Institute. Crystal’s son Matthew was diagnosed at the age of 5, just like me. He is 13 now. The challenge was started in 1989, two years after we graduated from Gulliver Preparatory School, originally raising funds for another charity. When Matthew was born, the family grew the tournament and has delivered over $500,000 to the Diabetes Research Institute in total.
Crystal asked if I could get any donations for the silent auction. I asked the hotels I worked with and I posted the request on Facebook. We got lots of responses, especially within out Gulliver alumni network. Specifically the class of 1987. One person who gleefully raised her hand to help was another dear friend from high school that I reconnected with five or so years ago, Terri Ostrow Pitts.
Terri was my first friend at Gulliver. I changed schools in eighth grade, a particularly sensitive time for kids. Not for me. I had a friend the first day, and 30 years later, we are still friends. Terri is the principal of a strategic placement and integration agency that specializes in the entertainment industry. She is also the founder of a company called TAGZ Jewelry. She offered to donate a ring for Crystal’s auction.
Then something magic happened.
We collaborated and came up with the CURE ring.
The CURE Ring is available for a limited time and $50 from each sale goes to the Diabetes Research Institute. It is our way of contributing to a CURE. To help ease the heartache of friends lost to this disease. To remember them honorably. To offer some relief to our parents and children. To fund even a small part of the organization’s scientific research.
To find a CURE.
And that’s the bottom line. The answer is not in the care. It’s in the CURE.
Please share this blog post with any friends, family, colleagues that have been touched by the disease. You’ll be surprised how many there are. Let’s put a stop to that.
Let’s get our CURE on.