September 27, 2011
Tonight has changed my life and my families forever. I attended the University of Minnesota’s Diabetes Symposium at Best Buy Corporate. It was focused on one thing; a cure for type-1 diabetes. As I sat with 400 other audience members I was quivering with the reality of there being a life for my brother without insulin shots, blood sugar tests, and the dark cloud of worry.
Because this is my first blog post I better give you a little background on myself and family. When I was 10-years old my parents told my brother Thor and I that our younger, energetic, spunky, little brother Will was in the hospital and had just been diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. I could tell that my parents were worried and that this was serious. Visiting Will at the hospital was really hard because he was hooked up to all these monitors and would cry when my parents would have to give him an insulin injection. Was Will going to still be able to lead a normal life despite having diabetes? Could he still accomplish his dreams? I remember going back to Baxter Elementary School the next day, walking straight to the library, and asking the librarian to get me any books about diabetes. I committed myself on December 1, 1996 to do whatever I could to help find a cure for diabetes.
Two years later I was brought to the doctor after showing some classic symptoms of diabetes. The doctor told me that I in fact also had type-1 diabetes. I remember looking at my beautiful mother’s face as she could hardly
comprehend having a second child diagnosed with this incurable illness. My parents remained strong for me. I appeared like nothing had changed in my life, but the reality was I was so uncertain about my future. I recommitted myself to the fight to find a cure.
Tonight as I sat in the auditorium listening to 8 panelists who have all received an islet cell transplant tears welled to my eyes with the image of little 5-year old Will in the hospital bed, with such uncertainty. Tonight was something that my family and I have prayed the last 15 years for; a cure to be found. I got up and asked a question to the lead researcher Dr. Bernard Hering about what can we do to help move along the clinical trials so that this cure can become accessible for the 26 million Americans living with it? Though some may call islet cells a treatment for diabetes, it is a cure in my opinion. Going from multiple injections and blood sugar checks to then just having to take two oral medications twice daily; give me that any day over the shots and pricking! They stated, “90 percent of patients who received a transplant-consisting of a mere teaspoon-sized infusion of insulin-producing islet cells from a donor pancreas-the procedure not only cured hypoglycemia unawareness, but it also eliminated the need for daily shots of insulin.”
Will made it clear from the beginning that the disease would not slow him down. Diabetes became a footnote rather than a headline in Will’s life. Twenty thousand insulin shots later, he is a walking, talking, testimony of God’s faithfulness. Thank you Will for showing me how it’s done. Making the call to tell Will the news tonight was something that I’ve prayed about day after day, night after night. “Will, the wait is over, a cure has been found.”
*If you’re interested in receiving updates as well as small action steps that we can all do to help in the fight to find a cure, please post your e-mail below or send me a message at Quinn@QSpeaks.com. Together, a cure is within our reach.*