From Type1Nation Blog posting
You’ve heard the advice before: “make lemonade out of lemons.” However cliché that phrase may be I believe it truly applies to how we handle our lives with type one diabetes (T1D). So many of our stories show how something so challenging can become an opportunity to connect with amazing people.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Jack Terschluse, a 19-year-old and rising sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis. I am currently studying political science and plan to go to law school to earn a JD/MBA. I live in St. Louis, MO, and have wonderful parents and a great little brother (although he would object to being called my “little” brother).
I can still remember July 25, 2005, the day T1D came into my life.
My mom slept with me in the hospital room, and my dad gave me my first shot of insulin. We even have funny stories from that time in the hospital amidst the turbulence a diagnosis brings. All T1D families remember those moments, not for their sadness, but for their testament to family and love.
Diabetes also gives us the opportunity to be active citizens. In 2011, I went with fellow delegates to JDRF Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C. We met with countless members of Congress about the importance of T1D research and how they can help us find a cure.
Despite its challenges, T1D has brought some great people into my life. For instance, my former endocrinologist, Dr. Santosh Gupta, helped me overcome my fear of low blood sugars and is a truly selfless person. In 2007, she retired to help T1D children in resource-poor communities in northern India. She does amazing work.
One day she asked me to write a letter to a young Indian girl with diabetes named Surbhi. Surbhi, at this time, was extremely timid about having T1D and did not tell anyone about it. Because people with T1D are considered “defective” in India, she feared she would not be accepted in her community. However, after a couple of months sending letters back and forth, Surbhi is thriving.
My experiences with Surbhi and Dr. Gupta inspired me to found Penpals United, a nonprofit that offers online support groups to people with T1D around the world. Our model works like this: on a monthly basis, children and adults with T1D go to a local clinic where they log on to a program called Oovoo. They then talk, via translation, with T1D teenage mentors from the United States.
The results have been incredible! I am blessed with a great team, made up of past Children’s Congress delegates. We just launched Vision 2014, our initiative to expand into Mexico and Africa.
What I love most about Penpals United stems from its capitalization on the human connection. A teenager with T1D can share his story with another teenager with T1D halfway across the world. All they need is an internet connection.
And T1D celebrities have shared their time with Penpals United. Recently, Gary Hall, Jr., Olympic gold medalist and a person with T1D, came to one of the online support groups and shared his life story. It was an incredible chance for kids to know that they can do anything as long as they take care of their diabetes.
All in all, I believe our journeys with T1D begin when by “making lemonade out of lemons” we meet great people and strengthen the relationships already in our lives.
Diabetes poses great challenges, but we can also pick up great blessings along the way. -
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Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!