Eighteen Years Later: We Walk for Life

Eighteen years ago today, on September 22, 1993, my daughter Ilana was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, just 5 days short of her 2nd birthday.

To say it was a frightening time is an understatement. She had lost 20% of her body weight and could barely stand up. The doctors handed me a syringe, an orange and a vial of saline and told us to practice giving injections because we were going to need to manage this ourselves–no doctors or nurses would come home with us to test her blood sugar or administer food or insulin as needed. We were on our own in a whole new uncharted world.

A few injections of insulin brought back the weight she’d lost,  the smile to her face and the energy of a normal toddler. But it couldn’t bring back the islet cells in her pancreas that her body had mistakenly destroyed or the way of life we’d gotten used to.

Eighteen years ago this week we learned how to do finger pricks and test urine samples. Today, the amount of blood and time needed to do a blood glucose test has been reduced dramatically and we no longer need to test urine.

Eighteen years ago this week we learned how to follow a strict set of dietary guidelines, including what exactly Ilana could eat and when. Today, with an insulin infusion pump, she’s able to deliver exactly the insulin she needs to cover exactly the food she wants, when she wants it.

Eighteen years ago this week we were told that type 1 diabetics fell into two groups: those who would wind up with life threatening complications, like blindness, kidney disease, loss of limbs or cardiovascular disease, and those who would not. We were told that we wouldn’t know for 18 years which group Ilana would be in, and there was nothing we could do about it. Today, with improved technology and medical advances, the rate of complications for type 1 diabetics has been reduced to the low single digits, and with good control, even these are decades away.

Eighteen years ago we didn’t know if Ilana would be healthy enough to go to college. Today, not only is she a junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, but she is right now spending a semester abroad in Wellington, New Zealand–something we never could have imagined eighteen years ago.

Ilana Ilana snowboarding in New Zealand, August 2011

A lot has changed about diabetes in the last 18 years, but some things haven’t. There is still no cure, nor do we have the artificial pancreas we were promised was just “a few years away.” Millions of people live with this disease–some are type 1 like Ilana; many more are type 2, like my late father, who died of diabetic complications.

The Hebrew word for eighteen is Chai, or life. Eighteen years ago we walked into Stanford Hospital to save Ilana’s life. Today we walk in Santa Clara with JDRF to save the lives of the millions of people who have this disease now, or will be diagnosed with it in the future.

In honor of Ilana and all the other brave kids, parents and caregivers who never, ever get a break from living with diabetes, I will be participating in the upcoming JDRF Walk on October 9 in Santa Clara, CA.

My goal is to raise at least $1800 for diabetes research–100 years of life.

Eighteen years ago we faced a diagnosis. Our dream is that eighteen years from now, we’ll be celebrating how much time has passed since the disease has been cured.

Join us.

This entry was posted in Reminiscences and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

  • Upcoming Events

  • What’s New

    Podcast: "We Built This City" - Linda Popky shares stories about her 40+ years in tech marketing in Silicon Valley. She says, "Don't ever listen to somebody who tells you you can't do something." - Listen!

    Podcast: Interview of Linda Popky about Using Friction to Improve Your Marketing by Gene Hammett on Leaders in the Trenches.

    SAC® Press Release: "Outstanding Customer Experience Can Be A Key Differentiator For Successful Businesses" – Read release.

    Podcast: Linda Popky interviews Dan Janal who tells us why the changes in the publishing industry offer outstanding opportunities for business people who have something to say. - Listen.


    Take our Marketing Above the Noise Assessment.

    Video: Just a Moment for Marketing: Mocha on Marketing: Sniffing All the Newcomers. Learn more about your customers, your competition, your markets. – View the video.

    NEW eBOOK: Top of Mind: 101 Insights to Transform Your Business
    Purchase PDF or ePub book.
    Top of Mind

    Book Video Trailer How can your message be heard in today's crowded, chaotic environment? Learn more about Linda Popky's new book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters, in this short video trailer.

    Harvard Business Review: "Identify the Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter" by Linda J. Popky - Read article

  • Read Our Blog

  • Subscribe to the Top of Mind Thursday Newsletter

    Free articles download with sign up
  • Marketing Above the Noise

    Introducing Dynamic Market Leverage™, an approach to help cut through the clutter, stand out, and effectively build business.

    Marketing Above The Noise

    What's Inside Available in Hardcover and eBook formats