My name is Jeremy Weisbach, I am 28 years old and I have type 1 diabetes. I am the founder of Jimmy Insulin, a 1 on 1 diabetes support non-profit organization. Today, I proudly say that I am a diabetic. However, I didn’t feel this way my whole life and I’d like to explain why…
It was summer time in 1990. I was 9 years old and trying to be normal and fit in, like all kids hope to do. I was playing in a neighborhood baseball league and attending Banner day camp. All of a sudden, I started getting headaches. They became increasingly more frequent. My parents and I started noticing peculiar symptoms. I was drinking and urinating excessively. I was sleeping in and waking up in the afternoon. I was having severe mood swings. Something was going on…
Monday, July 30, 1990, I was at Banner Day camp. My brother and sister were going to camp there as well. My brother threw up and the nurses called my mom to get him. My mom came and picked up my brother, Jonathan, my sister, Marni, and I, and took us all to the doctor. At the doctor’s office, they took a urine sample from me. On the way out of the office, I went to grab a sucker like I always did when I visited the doctor. Right before I got my hand on the sucker, a nurse put her hand right over the bowl and said I couldn’t have one. She was stern and unmoving. At that moment, I was in shock. I was dumfounded that this lady not let me have a sucker…she’s not my parent. I got very confused…
Then my world changed forever. My mother seemed very upset. We were going home, but I was going to have to go to the hospital. I remember packing a suitcase with my mom and then going to Lutheran General Hospital. They ran some tests. The doctor came in and officially diagnosed me with diabetes. What’s diabetes??? I asked. Then the questions poured out. What does it mean? Why did I get it? What will I have to do with it??? I was completely lost…and so was my mom.
The doctors told me that diabetes meant I had to follow a meal plan, take medication, and exercise regularly. I was only 9 and felt like my life was ruined. That night I asked my mom why this happened to me and we both cried…
My mom never left the hospital. It seemed like I was at Lutheran General forever. Friends and family came to visit daily. I had great support. I spent about a week there before getting released. The day after I got released, my mom let me return to camp. Now, I had to carry a fanny pack with me. Inside the fanny pack was my glucometer, a juice box, peanut butter crackers, and insulin. I hated wearing it. It made me feel different. Upon my return to camp, one of my best friends came up to my mom and said she had nothing to worry about and that he would take care of me. That was the first time my mom felt relief since the diagnosis. Today, that friend is a doctor.
Growing up with diabetes was tough. I ignored and neglected the diabetes. I didn’t accept the fact that I had diabetes. I felt very depressed and isolated from the world. I didn’t feel that I should have it. Why me?? None of my friends or family had diabetes. I fought it. I refused to acknowledge it or the lifestyle changes I would have to make. I had continued support from my family, friends, and doctors but I wouldn’t accept their support. I felt they didn’t know what I was going through. My endocrinologist didn’t have diabetes, either. How could they give me advice when they didn’t know firsthand what I was going through: no one understood me. No one could help me find my way through the nightmare of Juvenile Diabetes. I survived despite myself.
Through the years of neglect, I had several close calls. I was kicked out of overnight camp at the age of 12 because of lack of control. I was forced to leave just four days before the end. I missed all the parties and special good-byes. It was traumatic. I had a diabetic seizure when I was 14. My mother saved my life by coming into my room and calling 911. On New Years Eve 2000, I partied too much. I got home shortly after midnight, threw up constantly from drinking too much and my blood sugar went dangerously low. I was rushed to the emergency room. In January 2001, I was staying with my grandmother in Oak Park. I had a diabetic seizure and woke up in the hospital. My grandmother saved my life. In college, my roommates would have to monitor my blood sugars because I would get so drunk I didn’t know what was going on. I thank G-d my best friend was sober 24/7 because he saved my life on multiple occasions.
I have had many close calls. It wasn’t until after college that I came to the realization that I was risking damage to myself that I might not be able to undo. After several interventions, a good family friend of mine, Dr. Stewart Segal, got through to me. He said I had to start taking my life seriously or lose it. I had to take care of myself and properly manage my diabetes. I was getting on the right path. I quit drinking and finally accepted the disease and learned how to manage it to keep it in control. I have not had an emergency room visit or seizure since graduating college. I feel very happy and grateful to be alive today. I thank all my friends, family, doctors, and close ones throughout the years. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story.
Recently I realized what was missing during my early years as a diabetic. I never had a buddy to talk to who was going through the same thing I was going through-someone I could ask questions of and seek answers from. Most importantly, I needed someone who had diabetes that I could trust and that I could relate to. My family, my friends, and my doctors, were great, but none of them had diabetes. The direct connection was missing.
In 2008, inspired by Imerman Angels and encouraged by Jonny Imerman, “Jimmy Insulin” was born. No longer would a diabetic have to feel the isolation of growing up with the disease alone! Jimmy Insulin believes one on one support is essential for the physical, mental, social, and emotional well being of diabetics. Jimmy Insulin will mentor the new diabetic into his or her new world. Jimmy Insulin will provide this free service to diabetics and their close ones. Diabetics can now find a better way to transition and live in their new world by linking to those diabetics who survived it. Jimmy Insulin exists to guide diabetics and their close ones through this journey.
If you or anyone you know or meet has been touched by diabetes, please refer them to Jimmy Insulin. We would love to get them connected!
Jeremy Weisbach, 312-515-3353, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cancer Lifestyle
By Matthew Zachary
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Food For Thought.
I saw a huge billboard in NYC advertising for this website
Instead of ‘how a bill becomes a law’ I kept exploring the whole idea of
‘how a death sentence becomes a chronic condition’, not focusing on ‘why’
(public policy, medicine, prevention) but rather focusing, specifically, on
‘what next?’, i.e. the aftermath of social and cultural change that follows.
When a disease transforms from death sentence to chronic condition, does
this represent a tipping point for social change, fostering the genesis of
an entirely new, underserved demographic whose lifestyle and psychographic
behaviors hold the key to better serving their unique socioeconomic,
political and cultural needs through the balance of their extended
Does the early identification of this emerging population constitute fertile
opportunity for innovative ventures in social entrepreneurship that can
effectively address and identify these unique needs though moral and ethical
exploration both social (market research) and clinical (population science)?
Example: Diabetes and HIV were once a death sentence. Today they are chronic
conditions [in the US] which have been culturally desensitized and socially
destigmatized into the mainstream. The focus is no longer specifically our
favorite word ‘cure’ because death and suffering have, more or less, been
marginalized to the best extent that can be.
Progress not cure has yielded the need for MyHIVLife.com.
After all, “Living with it” is better than the alternative, right?
Is cancer in the United States following a similar trend?
I know it is. It already has.
Many doctors currently shy away from the word ‘cure’ even though it’s an
acknowledged scientific term with a Webster’s definition. It’s about
“survivorship” now, the quality and not necessarily quantity of your
How many “MyHIVLife.com”-type websites are there for cancer these days?
They’re popping up every day, raising public awareness, discussing the
‘lifestyle’ of what vigilant self-advocacy we as survivors must undertake
simply by living with, through and, hopefully, beyond our diagnosis.
And the word “beyond” is even losing meaning. Being told “you’re cured” is
not the end of story and, as too many already know, cancer can be the gift
that keeps on giving.
So the “survivorship” is the cancer lifestyle. What does it mean to be a
cancer patient? A suvivor? A caregiver? Especially if you’re under 40?
But that’s a whole other rant.
Food for thought.
Matthew Zachary is the Founder and CEO of I’m Too Young for This, the nation’s leading grassroots advocate for the next generation of cancer survivors and their caregivers in their late teens, 20s and 30s. A TIME Magazine Best 50 Website for 2007, they have helped bring the cause of ‘cancer under 40′ to the national spotlight and rallied a brand new generation of activists to ensure prompt detection, advocacy, research and support for this forgotten population.
How do I stay positive? I am inspired everyday by meeting amazing cancer survivors who have overcome SO MUCH and are SO PASSIONATE about giving their stories back to help someone else in the fight!! When I meet a 24 year-old girl in Seattle who tells me that she beat Burkitt’s non-hodgkin’s lymphoma in a her freshman year in college, muscled through it, graduated from college, and now in nursing school and excited to give back as an oncology nurse (and an Imerman Angel!) – I GET PUMMMMMPED UP!!!!! WOW!!! And then our staff and our amazing volunteers who care SO MUCH about changing the cancer world!! I am LUCKY to get to work alongside such crusaders!!!! The STRENGTH is in the team – and this team gets me FIRED-UP EVERYDAY!!!!
At the end of everyday, I walk out of my office with a big smile, knowing that our organization matched-up 10 or 12 people that day, and changed their attitudes and lives, and… I just can’t have a bad day!! I think it’s important for all of us to remember that helping people, in the simplest form, can and will give each of us so much joy, after all, what other reason would we be on this earth if it is isn’t to help each other overcome obstacles and keep well?!!!!! The people around me and the service we provide are a KEY source of my happiness and attitude, and agin I am LUCKY to play on this team of angels!!!!!! Good health and wellness to each of you!!!
Some statistics say that 97% of New Year’s goals will not be kept. As a regular goal maker I thought I’d pump up the possibility of making lasting changes with a new year (and decade!) just a few days away.
Internet statistics vary, but several sites stated that: 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. Additionally, some studies showed that, though many people quickly break their resolutions, people who explicitly resolve to make a change are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not: 75% making it past the first week; 46% making it past 6 months.
Popular new years goals include:
Eating Healthier (weight loss),
Quitting Smoking (preventing cancer),
Improving Mental Wellness
Here are a few tips from a variety of sources that I thought were smart in achieving a New Year’s Resolution:
* Be honest about where you are starting from and choose goals that are realistic.
* Vividly imagine your goals and write them down as precisely as you can. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!”- Peter Drucker
* Break your goal into a series of smaller goals that can be accomplished day-by-day, rather than expecting change all at once. Example: losing 2 pounds a month = 24 pounds in a year! 24 pounds equates to 5 bags of ice, a small dog or the Heisman Trophy!
* Complete a measureable action plan that includes all the steps necessary to achieve your goal, with due dates.
* Regularly evaluate your progress.
* Don’t be afraid of failing. Prepare your mind to achieve the goal, but relax! If you “fall off the wagon”, shake it off and get back on.
* Celebrate small achievements! Making and accomplishing goals should be rewarding and fun.
Summary: you can be in the 46% of goal makers who succeed if you decide to make it happen!
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What if you could make changes in your life, just by thinking positively? Some say that you can, through affirmations.
Affirmations come from a lot of places. Friends, family, even strangers on the street can pump each other up. In the spirit of the Chicago Marathon week, we thought we’d highlight a group that is spreading a little hope in a less conventional manner.
Reflect (www.reflectmylife.com) was created by Drew and Caroline Yacu, a brother/sister duo who decided to follow their interest in personal development to spread positive messages through apparel (goal: empower the world). With respect to Cancer Awareness Month, Reflect has decided to feature a new mantra on their popular t-shirts: “I have the strength to overcome all obstacles”. The phrase is written backwards so that, as one looks in the mirror, they are able to read the mantra!
Imerman Angels has always sung the praises of positive thought as a part of the physical fight against cancer, as well as the benefit of 1-on-1 matchups in facilitating this.
LIVSTRONG published this webpage devoted to the power of affirmations. It’s worth a look!
Physically, affirmations are said to “boost the cocktail of hormones in our system which play a crucial role in our mental and physical health”. This means that thinking positively can lower stress and adrenaline levels, which can help fighters with the symptoms related to cancer and treatment. Additionally, it is said that a positive attitude can act as a natural painkiller.
Don’t believe it? Try it! You can find over a dozen different products on the Reflect webpage that can get you started with positive affirmations. Click here to check out their page dedicated to Cancer Awareness Month.
Reflect celebrates Cancer Awareness Month
Proceeds will be donated to Imerman Angels.