Liat Singer is your everyday 14 year old student. But something makes her different from other teenagers. She has had juvenile diabetes for half of her life. As a freshman at Hammond High School in Howard County, Liat enjoys traveling, dancing and talking on the phone with her friends, but she must constantly manage her blood sugar levels with the help of a pump. She says, “it gets hooked up by a needle and every three days we have to change it.” Ina Hirsh is Liat's mother. She has become accustomed to helping Liat with her pump and says, “you give yourself a little insulin so it’s like a fake pancreas which is what doesn’t work on her, then when she wants to eat she has to tell the pump to give her more insulin because that’s what you get when you have food.”
Diabetes - hearing this word can put fear in even the most brave-hearted individuals. It is a disorder in which the body has trouble regulating its blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. There are two kinds of diabetes. Type one is also called juvenile diabetes because it is most commonly diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults. Juvenile diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys certain cells in the pancreas, destroying its ability to make insulin which helps to regulate blood sugar. If not controlled diabetes can seriously damage all of the organs in the body. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as many as three million Americans may have the disease.
Liat still remembers the day when she was first told that she had diabetes. “I was having a play date with my friend and then my mom said we had to go to the doctor so we just brought my friend with me because I thought it was going to be real quick. My mom was crying a lot and then she came in and she said we had to go to the hospital,” but ever since this day she has not allowed diabetes to stop her from helping others. “I do work with JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and I fundraise for them a lot so they're real supportive.” Last year Liat raised five thousand dollars for JDRF. She also helps younger kids learn how to deal with juvenile diabetes. Her friends also help her to fundraise for JDRF and help to broaden the impact of her outreach for support.
Liat has become a role model for all kids diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes because she doesn’t allow her condition to stop her from being the kind and positive person she is. Liat Singer’s story shows that no matter the circumstances, you can learn, laugh and love with passion as long as you allow yourself to.
Knowing the signs of diabetes could help you save a life. The warning signs of type one juvenile diabetes include extreme thirst; frequent urination, drowsiness, sudden vision changes, increased appetite, sudden weight loss, fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath, heavy, labored breathing, stupor and unconsciousness. If you would like to help Liat in her work of bettering the lives of those diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes, you can go to www.jdrf.org .
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