Thursday, October 18, 2007

Walk for the Cure ...

Friends... I know I've mentioned before that one of my nieces was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. My sister had given me permission to share some information with you for two reasons: 1) so that you can better understand the severity of Juvenile Diabetes and how it dramatically changes the life of a child and their family, and 2) to bring awareness to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's walk for a cure fund raiser.

My niece's name is Lexi, and below is a letter she has sent out to her family and friends asking for monetary donations to help raise funds for research for a cure. It is the only way her battle, as well as other children struggling with this monster, will ever end. A cure. And we are all so confident that it.will.be.in.her.lifetime. Glory to God.

This letter brought tears to my eyes and put a lump right smack dab in my throat as I remembered the horrific day that she, my sister, brother-in-law, and Lexi's brother and sisters had when she was rushed to the hospital. She is a true and walking miracle and their faith in God is amazing. I challenge you to walk away from her letter with a dry eye! (I would have failed the challenge miserably).

If after you read this letter, you feel compelled to help in any way, please email me at kissesof.sunshine@yahoo.com and I'll give you all the details. Thanks for your patience, and please, read on ...

Dear Friends and Family,

I am writing to you to ask for your support to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes. My name is Lexi. I am 9 years old and am a 4th grader in a Christian School in North Carolina. When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. You don’t outgrow diabetes; the only way out is a cure!

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my family had gone to the beach for spring break. I wasn't feeling well but we thought it was just a virus. I began vomiting and soon after, it was clear that things were getting bad. My parents took me to the doctor, which was 45 minutes away. By the time I got there, I could no longer walk. I was blue and could hardly breathe anymore. I had to be airlifted to the hospital and was placed in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I was told that I was in DKA (Diabetic Keto Acidosis). When you have diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas and you are no longer able to make insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to convert the food you eat into energy. Without insulin, your blood sugar gets very high. These high blood sugars are what cause damage to your body. My blood sugar was so high that my blood had become so acidic that it was as a toxin to my body. I was falling into a diabetic coma and the doctor told my parents to prepare for my death.

I am here today because of a miracle. God heard the prayers of all the people on a prayer chain for me that began at 5:00 in the morning. By 7:00am I was sitting up and asking for breakfast. God had reached down and saved my life! The doctors were amazed and said that it was impossible, but we know that with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!

Over 20 million Americans have diabetes and many more have it but don’t know it yet. 3 million children live with juvenile diabetes and more than 13,000 children are newly diagnosed each year. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in America. It has a 2-10 year asymptomatic progression but the long-term complications can be devastating. It can cause blindness, kidney failure, vascular disease and can reduce life expectancy by 15 years.

My life has changed since my diagnosis, but I know that within my lifetime there will be a cure. You can help find a cure for me and the 3 million other children like me who have diabetes. You can do something and actually make a difference. You can join me in my fight to find a cure. When I am cured, I will remember YOU, because you made a difference. My life will change again. It will be a change that I welcome! Here are just a few of the moments in my life that I will think of you:

  • When I can eat without getting an injection first.
  • When I don’t have to check my blood sugars 10-12 times a day.
  • When I can play/swim/run without worrying that I might go too low.
  • When I don’t have to get three shots at 11:00pm every night while I sleep.
  • When I don’t have to have my sleep disturbed every several hours to have my blood sugars checked.
  • When I don’t have to have 10 shots and 12 finger pricks every day.
  • When I can dance ballet on stage without leaving to raise my blood sugar because I feel like passing out.
  • When I can go to camp.
  • When I can spend the night at a friend’s house.
  • When I can leave the house without a bag full of supplies.
  • When I can have peace of mind.
JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) is sponsoring their annual Walk to Cure Diabetes in my town on October 27, and on various other days throughout the year. Every year, JDRF hosts 200 walks spanning the globe with over 750,000 walkers. Since 1970, JDRF has provided more than $1B to diabetes research worldwide with 85 % of every dollar going towards research. Last year, my chapter alone raised $1.2M. The Walk is more than just saving lives; it is tangible hope!

Here is how you can help change my life and the life of other children with Juvenile Diabetes:

1.) You can register for a Walk in your town at http://walk.jdrf.org/.
2.) You can make a donation on my behalf with my full name (my aunt GiBee can tell you off line my contact information) on the internet by visiting www.jdrf.org.
3.) You can send a tax-deductible contribution, made payable to JDRF or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to my Mom by October 25 (my aunt GiBee will provide you with my address off line).

Thank you for all your love and support and thank you for making a difference in MY life.

See you at the Walk,
Lexi

6 comments:

Barb @ A Chelsea Morning said...

You're absolutely right, GiBee. Three's no way to read her email without becoming weepy. This is so, so close to my heart and Lexi has found the words to express the heartbreak, the words I couldn't find six months ago when my two year old grandson almost went into a coma and was diagnosed with this "monster."

She hit it right on the head when she said the only way out of this is a cure. I pray for a cure for juvenile diabetes daily, every single time I prick Cameron's finger and every single time I give him a shot.

What a beautiful young lady she is.

momrn2 said...

What an incredibly brave, knowledgeable and very articulate child! This was absolutely beautiful, inspiring and right on.

Being an RN with a speciality in kidneys, kidney failure and dialysis for 14 years has left me with a huge understanding of the diabetic epidemic in our society... both type 1 and 2. Uncontrolled diabetes is the number 1 cause of Kidney Failure. That means we have to be experts at both... the majority of our patients are also diabetic's.

Having just returned from a conference hearing of some very exciting breakthroughs on the horizon for diabetes related to testing and medications, it still does not cure it. The greatest solution to the problem would be a once and for all cure!!! Hoping and praying it is found soon!!

May your sweet niece be blessed in a special and unique way for her heart and spirit!!! :-)

Susanne said...

What a lovely, articulate young lady. She is absolutely precious. Juvenile diabetes has touched good friends in our lives too, and we have supported Juvenile Diabetes Research since.

Jada said...

Wow. What an eloquent young lady you have for a niece!

I worry about my nephews having Juvenile Diabetes since my mom has diabetes. She, however, only has to check her sugar levels twice a day and give herself two shots. I cannot imagine what Lexi goes through every day.

Thanks for sharing her story.
~Jada

Shalee said...

What an intelligent, encouraging, informative and well-crafted letter that was. Thank you Lexi for sharing your story with us. I pray you are right and that God will give us the cure in your lifetime! As you said, with God, all things are possible!

Dawn said...

My niece almost died at 13 because of her undiagnosed juvenile diabetes. She had been to the doctor the day before and he thought she "might have" mono, so they were waiting till Monday for the blood work. She ended up in ICU on Saturday and was there for quite a long stay. They asked the doctor why he didn't do a simple urine test that day and he said he didn't want to be accused of sending his kids to college on the money he made from "unnecessary urine tests." Gag. We were all quite unimpressed and NOBODY went back to him that I know of. Pathetic.

Your niece is beautiful and writes amazingly for 9! My niece had a great resource in Denver, which saved her life and her self esteem. She was able to get the pump in high school and it was an amazing thing that helped her through college.

Bless her heart!