“Mom. I think I’d like to guest blog for you. Can I?” “Absolutely! Come up with an idea and go do it now.” My daughter ran upstairs, ready to share. Alas, the bright pink cast on her recently broken right arm made typing near impossible. Lauren promises to join us from time to time once she’s healed. But today I thought I’d share something she wrote a year ago. She was asked to give the Fund a Cure speech at our JDRF gala (that’s her on the banner of this page doing just that). Here’s what she said: (and maybe take a moment to welcome her to the blog world. She’ll be back with some new thoughts soon)
This is a big week in my life, for a lot of reasons. First, it’s my very last week of high school. On Friday, I will lead my class as Student Council President into our hallways for the very last time. I’ve done a lot in my high school years. Besides being student council president, I’ve played varsity tennis for four years, leading my team to the semis of the state championships. I was voted onto homecoming court by my fellow students, as well as voted “most school spirit” by them. I was named the top student volunteer in America by Prudential, and was named a top future leader by Pepsi Company. I’ve won a few big national scholarships from people like Best Buy and Mountain Dew. I’ve anchored my popular school newscast, and yes, I’ve had a LOT of fun. I went to the prom. I’ve spoken before Congress twice and even at the Democratic National Convention. I’ve met Presidents and Congressmen; Senators and celebrities.
Yes, it’s been an eventful, exciting time in my life. And I have so much more ahead of me.
But it hasn’t always been easy. Because, you see, while I like to make it all seem simple, it’s really quite a complication to juggle life as an active teen with keeping up with diabetes. And I haven’t always been a huge success at that.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like without diabetes.
What would it have been like to choose a prom dress without stressing over how I was going to clip my pump to it without ruining the look?
What would it have been like to walk onto the field to be crowned on the homecoming court had I not been dizzy from a low just a few short minutes before?
How much better would my grades have been had I not missed a ton of school because of hospitalizations (and to that, what would it be like if a stomach bug was just that – a stomach bug—and not a medical crisis?)
What would it have been like to go on a date without my parents stressing about if the boy knew the symptoms of a low or how to use a glucagon?
I’m not complaining – this is the reality of my life and I’m living with it. But still, I have to wonder: what if diabetes was gone from my life for good?
Because now, on the brink of the next phase of my life, I face a whole new series of what ifs.
*What if I could head off to college in Washington DC without having to take on the management of my disease – at long last – pretty much on my own?
*What if the biggest deal I had to share with my new roommate was “I’m not the neatest kid around,” instead of “oh and by the way I have this scary incurable disease that takes up a lot of my time and space?”
*What if my first visit to the campus with my parents did not involve figuring out how close the best emergency room was? What if the biggest fear my mother had about me going off to school was me being a little homesick – and not me becoming actually sick?
*And okay, I’ll say it: what if a beer was just a beer? (Hey, I am going to be a college kid).
Because in August, I’ll head to Washington DC with my new bedroom set, my laptop, three months worth of insulin, about 1,000 test strips, and the burden of just getting on with it – again.
I’m not asking for sympathy, because just like I always have, I’ll find a way to do it and do it well. I am hoping to be a great student at George Mason University; and maybe I’ll even score a great internship at the White House. There probably won’t be a cure for me in my college years – but there could be a cure for other kids who head off to college in the future.
Because, it is in our hands right here in this room. We have the power to push the research forward. We have the ability to do a little extra and push us closer to the cure. I hope you will take the time and effort tonight to strike all the “what ifs” I have had to deal with from the future of all the other kids coming along.
And selfishly, there could be a few “what ifs” you could strike away for me in my future.
*What if I can shop for a wedding gown without figuring out how to hide a pump in it?
*What if I can go ahead and have children without the hard work of managing diabetes along with it?
*What if I can go on job interviews and not worry if I should tell them about the diabetes or not?
*What if my children never, ever have a chance of having diabetes?
*What if, when I reach my goal of serving in public office, there are no more diabetes battles to be fought, and I can focus instead on bettering the world in other ways?
Yes, we have the power. Thank you for raising your paddles on behalf of all the kids out there wondering:
Tonight, you can change that “what if” to “yes, we will.”