Why I Celebrate the Day My Daughter Was Diagnosed With a Chronic Disease


Today (August 12th) we will have our cake and we will eat it too. We are not celebrating a birthday or a graduation. There will be no baby shower or future bride to honor. On this day, three years ago, our lives changed.

So today I will be celebrating the day my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes.

Checking Emma’s blood sugar, a little task we do 8-10 times each day.

We call it the “diaversary” and in our T1D community , this day is one to relish and reflect back on.

Shortly after Emma’s 3rd birthday we noticed some things that seemed unusual. She started drinking an excessive amount of water and wetting herself. She looked hollow with such sunken eyes and wasn’t growing. After a visit to her pediatrician we found out that she had T1D, and there was no cure. The next several days were a blur. She was hospitalized and we learned how to keep her alive.

My husband and I were now going to work 24/7 as her pancreas.

Her world was now bombarded with numerous finger pricks, shots, and carbohydrate counting. I felt like we would never be normal again. This was hers, and our, life sentence that we would carry out with heavy hearts each day. In these first few moments of diagnosis I would have laughed if someone had told me we would one day celebrate this day. Who celebrates the day their child was diagnosed with a life threatening disease?

Emma’s insulin pump site delivers the insulin she needs through a tiny needle in her backside.

Over time though, diabetes became easier. Emma grew to understand that this is a part of who she is (although it does not define her) and was much more accepting of the constant prodding we now had to put her through. I stopped crying as much and stopped feeling sorry for her and our situation. I met wonderful people who have been doing this for years and they kept reminding me that I wasn’t alone. I found hope in the constant fight for a cure.

Emma and I at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk in May 2014.

Then it happened, I saw this disease in a different light and I understood why it is celebrated. I saw my daughter as my hero. I saw her as the bravest and most courageous little girl that I know. Her smile, laughter, and bubbly attitude are infectious. Her resilience is admirable. I saw that she never felt sorry for herself or asked the ever popular “why me” question. If she never approached her day feeling sad and upset about diabetes than why should I?

So today we will celebrate our 3rd year of tackling this disease together. We will celebrate the highs and the lows. We will think about the thousands of finger picks and hundreds of insulin pump set changes we did. We will reflect on three years of setting alarm clocks during the night to check Emma’s blood sugar.  The need to wake Emma up in the middle of the night to treat a low blood sugar.  We will remind Emma how much she is loved and how well she handles the daily challenges that she faces. We will celebrate the courage of Emma and the strength of our family.

We will have our cake, and yes, we will eat it too.

Emma and her insulin pump!
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Jenn Foster
After spending a lot of time and money on an undergrad and masters degree, I realized that the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a momma. Three beautiful girls later; Emma (7), Sophie (4), and Madelyn (2), my husband Geoff and I have been married for 13 years and are happy to have planted our family in Fairfax, Vermont. My journey as a mother had been fairly typical until my oldest daughter was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes in August of 2011 when she was 3 years old. I recently took on a part time position with JDRF, an organization that funds type 1 diabetes research and also provides advocacy. Being a "work from home" mom with three kids under foot is going to be a whole new journey!


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