Life with Diabetes: A College Entrance Essay by an Amazing Young Woman

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today I have something very special to share with you! 

I want to share with you a college admission essay written by a young girl with type 1 diabetes.  I'm not sure how many times I'm going to have to read it before it does not make me cry...

This essay is written by Stephanie Franer.  She was diagnosed with T1D at the same age as Sweetpea. 

Stephanie's mom works with J.  In fact, they have worked together a long time and J never knew about Stephanie's diabetes until Sweets was diagnosed.

Dianne is the very first person I talked to after Sweetpea's dx that knew what I was talking about.  I remember clearly talking to her on the phone after being home from the hospital a day or so.  And just having a conversation with someone who was speaking this new language (even though I barely spoke it at all) was one of the most comforting feelings ever. 

Dianne was able to tell me what it was like to have a 3 year old girl diagnosed with diabetes.  They also dealt with the crying and the fighting shots and pain of having your child ask you stop hurting her when you're only doing your best to keep her healthy.  It was unbelievably comforting and encouraging to know they had been in our shoes and that they were just fine.  That they were doing well and living life and making it all work. 

I think that having Dianne at work has been a wonderful thing for J.  I have all you!  I have some wonderful close friends and my parents who I can talk to about diabetes and know that they will understand.  I have all of you to tell me I'm not alone or I'm not crazy or that you've been there, too.  J doesn't really have that.  So having someone that he knows that he can talk relate to on a D level is a good thing!

God sends us angels when we need them the most.  And Dianne and Stephanie have definitely been angels to us! 

Dianne sent us this essay a while back because she thought we would be interested in reading it.  She was right. 

Stephanie's approach to life with diabetes is exactly how I hope Sweets will feel. 

I know that Dianne and her husband are so incredibly proud of Stephanie.  I am, too!  And I know you will be as well.

 Her words are raw and real and heartfelt. I know how hard living with diabetes can be.  And I applaud her outlook and ambition. 

Stephanie,
        We wish you all the best as you begin your college career.  I know that you will be successful no matter what you do or where you go.  You are a fighter.  You are strong.  You are courageous.  You will touch the lives of others and they will be all the better for having known you.  You are an inspiration - not just to kids with diabetes (or Moms of kids with diabetes!) but to everyone! 
          Much, much Love...   and Thank you for sharing this with us!


 
            My name is Stephanie Franer.  When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.             
            I don’t really remember anything before my diagnosis.  Even in my earliest memories, I was diabetic, almost as if my life began at that point.
              At first, I thought it was fun because I didn’t understand.  I loved the attention.  I went home from the hospital and reality slapped me in the face, even at the age of three.  I eventually realized that this “game” I was playing was actually permanent.  This was real life. 
            Diabetes makes you grow up really fast.  I gave myself my first shot when I was eight.  I tested my own blood sugar, wrote it down in my log book, did calculations for my insulin, and gave myself shots before the age of ten. 
            I became bitter and angry.  I asked questions and wanted answers people couldn’t give me.  Why me? Why did I have to be different? 
            By the time I was eleven, I was obviously different from other children.  I was thin and gangly with glasses and braces.  I was very smart, and on top of all that, I was diabetic.  I was more of an adult than other children because I had so many responsibilities.  In some ways, I never got to be a child. 
            Other kids made fun of me.  At my school, being smart wasn’t cool.  I sat at home and cried multiple nights every week.  I couldn’t focus on my school work, I couldn’t stop arguing with my parents, and I couldn’t connect with kids my own age.
            When you grow up fast, you don’t like to ask for help.  You feel like you can handle all of your problems on your own.  It’s so hard to learn or grow without help. 
            I was destroying myself trying to get rid of my differences: the things that made me unique.    
            Then, I went to camp.  Camp Korelitz is a summer camp for children with diabetes.  It was stunning.  I had never been around so many diabetics in my life. 
Everyone had to test their blood sugar and take insulin.  For one week, everyone was the same.  For the first time, I was happy and hopeful.  I finally had a reason to be thankful for this thing that seemed so wrong. Each summer, I became closer with other campers, who are now some of my best friends.  I wasn’t alone, and the feeling was beautiful.  Every year I looked, and still look, forward to that one week where everyone is the same.
            Slowly, as the years went by, the bitterness ebbed away and I became optimistic.  I’m often told that optimism is one of my most prominent personality traits.
            In high school, I was still different.  I was an inherently good kid because I had already grown up.  I became thankful that I hadn’t been like other children from my grade school who were not very good people.  I began to realize that being different wasn’t a curse.  It was a gift.
            I chose to make friends with my differences. 
            I realized something: life is rough, but you can always handle it.  Asking “Why me?” doesn’t solve your problems.  Besides, my differences are wonderful.  I truly believe that I am the kind of person who can take something unfortunate and terrible and make it beautiful. 
            I am now a counselor at Camp Korelitz.  I want to change my campers’ lives the way camp changed mine.  I want them to take their trials and make them into something beautiful, something to be proud of, because they really are.
            There’s talk about cures for diabetes, but honestly, I can’t be cured.  Physically, I probably could.  However, after fourteen years of living with this, there will always be some part of me that is inherently “diabetastic,” and I’m more than okay with that.
            I want to become an endocrinologist and specialize in diabetes care so I can show diabetic children that life with this disease isn’t terrible or impossible.  I want to use my story to show people that your differences aren’t a weed you need to kill.  They’ll flower into something amazing if you let them.


Was that not amazing?!?

Kids with diabetes are just the most awesome kids ever, right?  And they grow up to be the most incredible adults ever, too!

Thanks again to Stephanie and Dianne for sharing this with us!

Let's show Stephanie and her family know just how wonderful they are!  Leave them a comment here...

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14 comments:

  1. Stephanie,

    Good luck...your attitude and spirit will see you far in life. Thank you so much for allowing Hallie to share this with us. My son is 8. "D" isn't on his radar yet...too busy with hockey. I have a feeling we will struggle on and off over the years. I have encouraged him to try a "d" camp and he is not interested yet. I do think it is so very important to realize some "same-same" in all of this.

    Love to you and your fam,

    Reyna

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  2. Stephanie,

    Thank you for that and thank you Hallie for sharing it. My 10yo daughter is only four months into this D-life but I hope she grows up to have such a wonderful attitude! She will be going to a D-camp this summer and I hope it helps. Thank you for the encouragement! I might just let her read your essay.

    Julie

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  3. Stephanie
    I've been contemplating camp for my 9 yr old who's only been dx for 7 mths, thanks for the encouraging word we will look into it now. She has no one at her school and still doesn't like to test and take shots in front of people. Thank you for sharing your essay.
    Jennifer, mom to Sophia

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  4. Stephanie,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful words. As a parent of a T1 child, I find your insight into this secluded world both interesting and encouraging. My nine year old daughter was diagnosed last May. I think so far she has struggled most with the feeling of being different than her peers. She has recently begun to feel the sting of exclusion from parties and play dates with the other girls in her class because of ignorance of this disease. Thank you for the reminder that diabetes can have some positive effects in her life to slightly off set the long list of negatives. I pray that some day she will have as positive an attitude as you do. Thank you for the much needed encouragement. May God bless you in all that you do.

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  5. Thank you, Stephanie, for your sweet words! You are mature for your age, and I'm so proud of you. My daughter is 9, and going on 8 years with D by her side. She's growing, and I pray she turns out with a great attitude like yours! : ) Hugs, Holly
    Thanks for sharing, Hallie!!

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  6. Stephanie
    Hi! This is Jen Loving's daughter Nora.I was dxd with T1D when i was 4 in a half years old and now I am 11 years old. I always ask the questions to myself 'Why me?' too. Now that I read this masterpiece of yours I am not. I KNOW YOU WILL GET VERY FAR IN YOUR LIFE!! :) I want to thank you for sharing your story with all of us!:)
    God Bless,
    Nora

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  7. Hallie, you are the amazing one! You reach so many people and really make a difference. One note: I was scared to death to send Stephanie to overnight Diabetes Camp, since I couldn't talk to her for a week and I wouldn't be in control of her diabetes care. She and I both cried when I dropped her off. I worried all week, but was comforted by the fact that there were doctors and nurses there to care for her. I worried that she was miserable and couldn't call me to talk about it. It was a very stressful week for me. Then...I went to pick her up a week later and she didn't want to leave camp. She cried when we left to go home. Her and her new friends made plans to meet up and plan for camp a year later. I was so relieved! I began to look forward to overnight diabetes camp along with Stephanie. Now for the past 7 years there has been a week where she feels "normal" and where I can relax knowing she is happy and well cared for in a way that surpasses how I could ever care for her.

    Dianne

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  8. Being a D mama of a 5yo I can imagine how proud your parents must be! You'll do great things in life for sure, you have the right attitude.

    Keep walking your head held high, you are a wonderful young woman!

    Thanks for sharing Stephanie
    Camille ;)

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  9. Well hi everyone! This is kind of surreal because the only person on here I've ever met is my mom...and you're all saying such nice things to/about me. I almost cried reading all of it. I'm so happy that my essay has had such an effect on everyone. I absolutely LOVE that I might be convincing people to send their kids to camp. (Do it! You will NEVER regret it!) I just wanted to thank you all for the kind words and thank Hallie for posting this. Tell Sweetpea I say hi :)
    Stay Diabetastic ;)
    -Stephanie

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  10. thank you for sharing :)
    kelly woods

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  11. Wow! Stephanie, you are a real inspiration. I can't wait to share your beautiful words with my 8 year old. Best of luck to you!

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  12. Well, thanks for the cry! Just beautiful!

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  13. thank you for sharing this! it is beautiful and inspiring and gives me such hope for my Emma's future. My favorite line is "I want to use my story to show people that your differences aren’t a weed you need to kill. They’ll flower into something amazing if you let them."
    Good luck to Stephanie in all of your future endeavors!

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  14. I really enjoyed reading that! No, I did not cry perhaps because I am a PWD. It was so heartfelt and real and lovely. I like this Stephanie person a lot!

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