JDRF Children’s Congress is one of the largest advocacy events supporting type 1 diabetes.
Two Texoma girls will represent Texas at the nation’s capital at the event held every other year in Washington D.C.
Both girls leave in a couple weeks and are excited to talk about their stories. Their goal is to encourage lawmakers to seek continued funding for type 1 diabetes research.
Claire and Emma were just 10 years old when they were diagnosed with type one diabetes.
Emma’s father also has type one, so he knew the signs. Claire’s father is a family practitioner who diagnosed her with the autoimmune disease.
“Diabetes? What? I knew my dad had it but I was still like, I knew a little about diabetes back then but I was still like, what’s that?” Emma said.
“He sat me down and said, ‘Claire, tomorrow morning we’re going to go get your blood drawn. I really think you have diabetes,” Claire said.
Claire said when she was diagnosed, there was a lot she didn’t know about diabetes.
“I’m extremely active and so when I was diagnosed, I was afraid I was going to have to slow down and not do as much. I really thought that diabetes was going to limit me, but now that I’ve been diagnosed and I’ve had it for so long, I realized that you know, the label, diabetic, does not limit me at all,” Claire said.
Both girls said they have learned a lot along the way, especially the signs that their blood sugar levels are plummeting.
“I start to lose like, what makes sense to me. I’ll be doing something over and over again. And I was like, okay this isn’t right. I need to go take a break, figure out what’s going on,”Emma said.
In addition to keeping on top of their levels, they said humor was key.
“It has been a hard adjustment with diabetes because I do wear machines on my body. I get weird stares in public or people come up and ask if I’m a robot. You know, so you definitely have to find the humor in diabetes,” Claire said.
The insulin pump has changed a lot for those managing type one and researchers say funding is key in finding the next advancement.
An artificial pancreas is already in clinical trials.
“It’s a close loop system between the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitor. So if your blood sugar levels read too low then the pump can automatically suspend through a threshold suspend of insulin. So it will stop giving you insulin. So it reacts like a regular person’s pancreas would react,” Claire said.
Emma and Claire hope their trip to D.C. will help lawmakers put a face to the disease and help them better understand what living with type one is all about for kids like them and more than one million others in Texas, alone.
Emma and Claire are set to head to the nation’s capitol in just over a week.
They will join about 160 other kids and lobby for three days.