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“He has diabetes”

“He has diabetes.” Our pediatrician spoke those words the morning of February 28, 2013 and changed our family’s life forever. One moment in time. Three words. The trajectory of our future seem to spin out of our control in an instant.

Jackson is one of the lucky ones. We caught the symptoms early and we had access to exceptional medical care. At the urging of our pediatrician, we drove to the Joslin Diabetes Center and learned how to care for our two-year-old son who seemed confused as to why his two moms cried uncontrollably. The team at Joslin taught us what we needed to know to keep Jackson alive. Finger pokes, carb counting, bolusing, and most importantly, knowing the warning signs of severe blood sugar highs and lows. Those first few days seems like a blur. We were devastated. Crushed. Angry. We wanted desperately to change our fate.

As the days rolled into weeks and months, we returned to Joslin for reassurance and answers to questions that couldn’t be answered. Looking back, it seemed that Jackson’s medical team knew that we needed more than they could give us. His nurse, almost as an afterthought, suggested that perhaps we might be interested in a children’s diabetes conference in Orlando in a few months. Disney? Is she nuts? We’re struggling to sleep and she thinks a trip to Disneyland would be helpful? It’s an organization, she explained. A support group for families like yours. Children with Diabetes Friends for Life. You will learn how to live a healthy life with this disease and you will find support. You will find your tribe. Your people. You are not alone.

We registered to attend almost immediately and we will never forget the nervousness and trepidation we felt walking into the Coronado Springs. We breathed easier. The nerves settled a bit. We saw families like ours who all had one thing in common. They were living with Type 1 diabetes. They were Black, White, Latin, Jewish, and Muslim. They were straight, gay, and transgender. They had grandparents, siblings, and loved ones who joined them in this journey. They smiled and welcomed us into the club where no one wanted to be a member. They told us everything was going to okay. We were home.

We have attended every Friends for Life Conference since our first event in 2013. Jackson has grown up with his T1D friends and we have learned about new technology, emerging medical breakthroughs, and, most importantly, we have found dear friends who we never knew we needed. Thankfully, we’ve been able to give back as we welcome new families every year. Now, we are the ones telling parents that their toddler will be okay. Friends for Life changed our lives by fostering a community of acceptance, compassion, and hope for a future without Type 1 diabetes. Until that day comes, we will be with our FFL family. We are stronger together. Stronger for our son. Stronger for each other. We are Friends for Life.


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