Saluting Moms in our T1D Community
“Who needs superheroes when I have a Mom?”
At a time of year known for showing appreciation for our loved ones, we would like to share the stories of four devoted mothers from across Canada whose children have type 1 diabetes (T1D), and who have committed their time to a cause that is near and dear to their heart – JDRF.
Despite the challenges these women have faced and continue to face, they remain pillars of support and driven T1D advocates. They have also worked to further JDRF’s mission, whether as an employee (past or present), volunteer, or Walk participant. True role models, these ‘superhero’ Moms are not only an inspiration to their children, but to all parents.
Tami of Edmonton, AB
My daughter, Leanne, 15, was diagnosed with T1D in 2007. She began with injections, but has been using a pump for almost seven years now. She is somewhat independent, but occasionally needs help with her infusion sites. There are days when I am more involved than she wants me to be, but I am grateful that she still allows me to check her meter and write her numbers down to review.
Diabetes is a full-time job. It’s 24/7. It means taking the time to plan in advance. It means waking up each night to check on your child. It means unexpected trips to the hospital. It means teaching others about the disease because it’s amazing how little people know about it.
I think that for most parents the relationship with a teen is already challenging. Adding diabetes definitely brings another element of frustration. I bought a book called Raising Teens with Diabetes. Choosing the right wording – or no wording – is even better when it comes to a teen.
This journey has taught me to enjoy life, but not take things for granted. We have never told Leanne that she can’t do something because of her diabetes; we always do what we can to make it work.
Kim of Pincourt, QC
My son, Damien, was five years old when he was diagnosed with T1D. He was familiar with the disease because his father also suffers from the condition, but it was still heart-breaking for us to watch each time he needed an insulin injection.
Today, Damien is 12 and uses a pump. He is very independent with his daily T1D management – especially at school – but I am also very involved and we work as a team. I do most of the carbohydrate counting, pump programing, changes of infusion sites and training of school staff. I also wake up in the middle of the night to check on him.
Damien plays AAA basketball, and I am at every practice and game making sure his blood sugar level is in check because I want him to enjoy his passion fully and not think about his diabetes.
My youngest son was born just a few weeks before Damien was diagnosed. Despite loving them equally and wanting to be fair, I often feel guilty as I spend more time with Damien to ensure his diabetes is under control.
It is a terrible disease, but as a family we look for the positive and take the time to appreciate the simple things in life. Because diabetes is not our entire life – it is only a part of it.
Ashley of Vancouver, BC
My mother, Maureen, has been my best supporter since I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of nine. Over the years, she taught me how to advocate for myself and not be intimidated to ask for what I need. She also showed me how to feel empowered about my T1D through research. I participated in many studies at SickKids Hospital because our family believed that part of being diabetic meant pitching in to help the next generation.
My mother was also great with birthdays. In the 1990s we really couldn’t have any fast-acting sugar because the insulin available wouldn’t peak fast enough, so cake was out of the question. She sleuthed out a recipe for an ice cream cake made with an artificial sweetener. I had it every year for my birthday and it was amazing.
As a former Bank of Montreal employee, my mother would work her network like crazy before every JDRF Walk in which our family participated. And though I’m 33 years old now, she will still offer advice on how to improve my self-management some days. You are never too grown up to get away from a mother’s T1D lecture.
Veronica of St. John’s, NL
My son, Sebastien, learned he had T1D when he was seven years old. At the time, I had no idea about the disease or what it meant.
Over the first few years, there were times I’d hear him say, “Curse you, diabetes!” It was stressful for him to be restricted to eating at certain times, or being forced to eat to account for the insulin he would get in the morning.
New routines had to be created to support him and his health, but they were never considered chores because his well-being was so important to me. My greatest stress has arisen from ensuring that I am doing the right things – giving him enough insulin, not giving him too much, trying not to sleep through the 3:00 AM alarm (which has happened a few times), etc. There is much to remember and always so much to constantly learn.
Today Sebastien is 13 and very independent, but I am still actively involved. The hardest part is constantly wondering how he is and how his sugars are, while trying to give him a little space to be a teenager and trust his instincts.
Life has changed for us, yet has brought us closer in so many ways. There is a mutual trust that must exist for effective T1D management. Diabetes doesn’t mean that Sebastien can’t have a normal life – it just means the addition of some essential routine and working together as a team.
This May, we pay tribute to the wonderful mothers who raised us, helped shape us as individuals and continue to watch over us into adulthood. We also extend a special thank-you to all these women who tirelessly care for their children living with a chronic disease and whose stories illustrate that there is no greater love than that of a mother.