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The Alter family at a JDRF event

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Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Up close and personal

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Last month, we introduced you to our #VBGIVESBACK woman of the quarter, Sarah Alter, and her philanthropic passion, JDRF, the leading global organization funding type one diabetes (T1D) research. For the Chicago-based Alter, President and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, the connection is personal—her husband has the chronic disease. In a new essay, she gives us an intimate glimpse at what the day-to-day life is like for someone living with this lifelong disease—and why the research JDRF helps fund, the very research your donations support, is a game-changer.

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Essay

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"My husband, Michael, was diagnosed at age 22. There was no history of anyone in his family having had it. There was, however, a large footprint of people who were impacted by a variety of autoimmune diseases, and diabetes is one. He ended up finding JDRF, through his endocrinologist, when he was in his early forties. Michael had reached a point in his life when he realized his body had had enough.

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"Before, he was able to control his diabetes, but I wouldn't say he was successful at managing it. There were still challenges. He was carrying syringes around in a cold pack, doing shots, pricking his finger… the old-fashioned way.

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"The day-to-day wasn't easy. The first thing he did in the morning, after waking up, was prick his finger, read his blood sugar level, then figure out what insulin he had to take to potentially correct it. He had to do that before and after every meal, before and after every time he exercised. His body would wake itself up in the middle of the night every time his sugars were low or high—he never got a good night's rest because of that.

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"Now thanks to JDRF, he can better control and manage his diabetes. He wears a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor—we call him the bionic man or sugar daddy!—as well as an Omnipod, which enables him to both read his blood sugars and inject insulin from his phone. Since adopting these technologies, he has seen radical improvements in his health and sugar levels, and in his overall ability to control diabetes. It's less manual, more automated and predictive and, because of this, more precise.

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"As a family, that difference affects us too. If he's traveling and staying at a hotel and his sugar levels drop, not only does he get an alert on phone, which wakes him up, I get an alert on my phone as well. We know within five to 10 minutes, in advance, if his sugars are going to go low. Years back, before this technology was available, he would travel and we wouldn't know if he would wake up the next day or not. Imagine parents who are going through this—children may not have the intellectual or emotional maturity to be able to tell you their sugars are low or high. These new technologies, which JDRF helps fund, have been absolutely life-changing."

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