Nomination & Photography by Jilli Worth of Pink Owl Photography Interview by Lauren Michener | Submitted by Lauren Stone
The Nomination: Lauren Stone. Having been diagnosed with Type 1 insulin-dependent Diabetes just two weeks into her freshman year, Lauren's journey has become about living without limitations and educating others about Type 1!
What was your initial reaction to finding out about your disease? It’s funny, as a 14-year-old girl, I remember immediately crying and wondering if I was ever going to cheer again. Thankfully, those worries were quickly put to rest by the doctors. After my discharge, I worked very hard with a diabetes educator specializing in athletic children. She worked with me and my parents virtually each week for two months to get my blood sugar regulated to compete and tumble again. That all-star season I traveled to various venues including Atlanta and The Summit All Star Cheerleading Championship in Walt Disney World. Since that time, I have transitioned to cheering for my high school. I am on the sidelines for both football and basketball seasons, and my high school team will compete again this year for the third consecutive year at the National High School Cheer Championships in Walt Disney World. Also, I am currently attending college prep clinics to possibly pursue cheerleading beyond high school.
Do you feel people treated you differently after they found out you had diabetes? My friends, teachers, coaches, and teammates have all been amazing! I have been so blessed by their never-ending support and big hearts. They have never treated me differently for one second. Next to my family, they have been some of my biggest supporters! As an example, one of my best friends asked for donations to JDRF in lieu of birthday gifts for her 16th Birthday. She raised over $500 for my JDRF One Walk team. I feel the support from my friends and family definitely helped with my transition early on… and I am forever humbled and grateful for their love.
How has being diagnosed with diabetes affected your view on life? I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2015, just a few weeks into my Freshman year of high school. While I was in the hospital, I was assured that there were essentially no limitations for a well-managed Type 1 Diabetic which was extremely reassuring. Since then, I have taken this philosophy to heart and continue to be active and involved in my school and my community. I am forever grateful for the advancing technology that allows me to manage my blood sugar and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What inspired you to start educating others about diabetes? Interestingly, I never set out to actually “educate” people about diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is very strange diagnosis. There is a lot of personal education that takes part in the beginning. You have to understand how exercise; food and your specific body all react together as you process every piece of food you intake. I think that educating others came more from my personality. It really has developed more out of the openness I have about my situation. When I was in the hospital, my Diabetes Educator told me I could be as public or private about my new diagnosis as I wanted to be. She indicated that some people opt to keep it a very private thing.... I smiled and let her know I had already announced to my friends on Instagram what was wrong with me! I think from that point forward, I’ve been an open book. It’s now part of who I am. I’m never ashamed to answer questions, stop and explain my insulin pump/CGM or help others learn more about T1D. I’m confident about wearing my pump on my arms and legs and happy to show others it’s just part of who I am! Because of that, I have been asked to share my story on several occasions.
What message would you like people to know about diabetes? There are probably three things that I would love to tell others. First, Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease. This makes it quite different than Type 2 with which most people are familiar. Type 1 occurs when a person’s pancreas completely stops producing insulin which regulates our blood sugar levels. Therefore, a person becomes insulin dependent and must take insulin injections or wear an insulin pump to survive. At this time there is no known cause for T1D and no known cure.
Second, T1D is very easy to diagnosis, but initial symptoms can sometimes go unnoticed. Type 1 is often confused or mistaken for the flu; someone may feel tired, have extreme thirst, make frequent bathroom trips, have an increased appetite, notice sudden weight loss, or experience vision changes. A simple finger stick with a glucose test will often give doctors an easy tip if they’re looking at a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic.
Third, there is virtually nothing a Type 1 Diabetic can’t do!