Wednesday, October 28, 2015

T1D Looks Like Me

Last spring, the Naturally Sweet Sisters, along with many other amazing T1D families across the country, were asked to take part in a brand-new JDRF campaign to help bring awareness during National Diabetes Month to everyone living with Type One Diabetes.

Despite growing diagnosis, it continues to be a disease that has yet to be defined as to exact cause and ultimate cure.  

We do know that T1D:
  • Is NOT caused by diet
  • Is NOT due to lifestyle, activity or something a person did
  • Is diagnosed in ALL AGES, not just children
  • It REQUIRES insulin to live

While I like to focus on hope and living well, the reality is that we have had situations where we have faced ignorance, prejudice and a lack of education of what this autoimmune disease is really about.

From the first day home from the hospital and a friend assumed that we were contagious due to blood borne pathogens and how our first private preschool attempt suggested that we would not be welcomed due to T1D care.  Thankfully, we were able to use those moments to weed out seriously flawed relationships and to secure a warm, loving and nurturing environment at the local public school.  

However, those are just two instances in the sea of many.  What I continue to worry about is how my children will fare in the face of such obstacles.  They carry the burden of T1D care and to add the social stigma, it could become too much.

That's why it is important to be a voice and to share the truth about T1D.  To make change, we have to create awareness. 

National Diabetes Awareness Month begins November 1 - and you can be part of it.
T1D Looks Like Me is a simple, powerful, interactive way to highlight how type 1 diabetes (T1D) affects millions of people all round the world – including 1.25 million in the U.S.
Donate your social media status for November 1 to JDRF

To Join the ThunderClap Click HERE


Cut/Paste into your browser:

By doing so—and encouraging your friends to do the same—we can build worldwide momentum for our message. Sharing our voices as ONE is a powerful way to create a worldwide trending topic designed to raise awareness and show the world that T1D doesn’t have one look. Instead, T1D Looks Like Me.
Together, we will open hearts and minds to the complexity and seriousness of T1D, and the demands that people impacted by this disease face every day.
And feel free to tweet me @natsweetsisters with a picture or inspiration of T1D Looks Like Me  - Together, we CAN! #curet1d #teent1d

Monday, October 26, 2015

An Idea, A Doctor and An App

The first draft of the Naturally Sweet Sisters emoticons

This week marks the unveiling of a project that the Naturally Sweet Sisters started almost exactly a year ago.

Evolving from an idea that they had regarding emoji use to help explain type 1 diabetes to parents, teachers, advisers and friends in order to streamline the repetitive nature of explaining the various (and multiple daily tasks) that T1D requires.

Upon hearing the idea, their wonderful endocrinologist, Dr. Joyce Lee (Twitter @joyclee) at the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital, brought together a collaborative of pediatric patients, medical students, and technology students to develop a working app that would lift the burden of kids living with Type 1 Diabetes.

That's right.

Two little girls dreamed an idea.

An adult heard them.

A new idea was introduced to market.

This is the very foundation of #MakeHealth Fest.  Ideas do not need to be created by a government appointed think tank.  Ideas do not need to cost billions of dollars.  Ideas do not even need to go through strenuous approval processes only to be told NO by people outside the intended scope.

Ideas should be dreamed, listened to and created.  Imagine the wonderful world we could create if we did just that.  By encouraging our children to follow through on their dreams, we are implementing a world full of makers; people who often can solve problems both cheaply and sensibly while lifting burden for others.

Age is non-existent for makers.  Whether you are 3 or 103, the best ideas are the ones that come from people with a clear desire to improve outcomes.  Making money is nice but it certainly isn't the objective.  It is to lift barriers, clear hurdles and make life easier.

For the unveiling, the Naturally Sweet Sisters spoke that the 2016 #MakeHealth Fest.  As a side note: my recording was wanted to be present in their moment without being a camera lady! Therefore, I am including a copy of the speech (see below) that the girls co-wrote.  I think it speaks volumes about the confidence that being a maker provides, especially to a child living with a chronic condition.  My hope is that you encourage your child to dream an idea and join the maker movement too!

Please check back in on twitter @natsweetsisters or on Facebook under naturallysweetsisters or our blog during the upcoming month as we announce the update of the Diabetes Emoji App on iTunes.

2016 #MakeHealth Young Maker's Speech

Hello!  Let me introduce myself.  My name is ___.  Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 12 years old.  Which by the way, means that I had about four hours of sleep!  Thanks mom.  Sorry Dr. Lee.  Now to most of you, I might seem pretty young still.  However, sometimes I feel pretty old.  Mostly because I do a lot of things that most adults do not have to do.  Like how I have to manage my type 1 diabetes everyday since I was three years old.

My name is ___ and I am 14 years old.  Like my sister ___, I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes for a long time.  Since my sister was diagnosed first, I actually started as a type 3, helping her and then, graduated to diagnosing myself in our family car when I was 9 years old.  I guess I should say thanks Dr. Lee and sorry mom.  If you do not live with Type 1 Diabetes, let me explain that it’s a huge commitment to stay healthy.  I have to test my blood sugar 8 to 10 times a day, eat several mini snacks and while I love teenager junk food, I have to be cautious about food choices.  Because I do a great job with my T1D,  I am able to be very involved with school, Varsity golf, student council , clubs and even volunteer work at Motts Children’s Hospital.  I love being able to manage my Type 1 Diabetes independently.  However, sometimes, it is a huge inconvenience to always have to explain to the world of what I am doing and why I am doing it. 

That’s why my sister and I thought an APP would be helpful.  Together, we dreamed of a way where we could send an emoji to our mom and dad, or our teachers, or our friends to help explain what we need to do manage T1D.  Like when I need to test my blood sugar, which then shows that I need to eat a snack even though the rest of my class does not. 

Or when I need to check my cell phone because my Continuous Glucose Monitor is sending a warning that I am going high or low.  Teachers are not trained as nurses nor are my coaches or advisers.  It’s hard for them to remember what I need to do when they have a classroom or a team of kids in the room. 

Thanks to Dr. Lee, she recognized that my sister and I are ‘experts’ in Type 1 Diabetes care.  She helped us to take our drawings and turn them into something that would help in an APP.  Dr. Lee asked her students to tackle the project and now, we have an improvement that will definitely make Type 1 Diabetes a little less hard.


I want to be a doctor when I grow up.  If there is one thing that I have learned through having Type 1 Diabetes in our family, it is that little improvements in our care, make life a lot easier.  Like our family saying goes, Kids First, Diabetes Second.