I’m Not Slowing Down
Editor’s Note: Léonor was a member of Beyond Type Run‘s 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Team sponsored by Dexcom and Insulet, makers of the tubeless Omnipod Insulin Management System. Learn more about the 2019 Beyond Type Run team here.
Last year, on December 9, 2016, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). That day, my life changed forever. Today, I have decided to do something about it. I want to make a difference by raising awareness and showing that nothing is impossible.
The story of my diagnosis is not different from a lot of type 1’s story. For a few weeks, I was so thirsty I had to get up several times at night to drink water, I started to lose weight, I was craving sugar, the world around me started to look blurry and I felt exhausted all the time. I had absolutely all the symptoms. For a few weeks, I found an explanation for each of my symptoms. I did not realize I was diabetic before I ended up at the hospital treated for severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
That was a real shock, as I had never even heard of it. No one in my family had diabetes. I knew literally no one who had diabetes. I arrived at the emergency department almost feeling like I shouldn’t be there. I left the hospital six days later, with an incurable autoimmune condition. I was stunned. One day I felt healthy and I didn’t even know what diabetes meant, the next day I have to inject myself insulin four times a day for life just to keep me alive. And meanwhile, I had almost died.
The first decision I made in my hospital room? Be stronger than diabetes. Never let it limit me. Live my life to the fullest.
One week later, I ran a 10 km.
One month later, I started a new job in an international environment-friendly cosmetics company.
Three months later, I moved into a new apartment and painted and decorated it myself.
Seven months later, I had already visited 15 cities in 7 different countries.
Nine months later, I signed up for a half-marathon to raise awareness and I launched my own fundraising campaign.
I am still learning how to live with this disease, and I am still trying to stop wondering “why me,” trying to accept a life-long condition. But I hope for a cure. And if we want to find a cure, we need funds to finance research.
I have decided to run a half-marathon to raise funds for the organizations supporting diabetics and diabetes research.
I have decided to run a half-marathon to raise awareness, to destroy stereotypes and to inspire other type 1s.
The desire to make a difference came to me as soon as I was diagnosed. I promised myself that I would be stronger than diabetes. Running a half marathon has emerged as a personal challenge that would help me raise awareness and fight diabetes. I am proud to take up the challenge for Beyond Type 1. This is a cause close to my heart and the donation of others will make a real difference not only in my life but also in the lives of many others.
The training and the half-marathon is definitely a challenge, but knowing others are behind me makes my efforts worthwhile. I am sharing my training on my Instagram account and each message, comment, like and donation I receive is a real blessing and motivation to pursue my goal.
Sharing my story is not about complaining or talking about me. I feel grateful for the life I have and that “only” my pancreas gave up on me. I am sharing my journey because people with type 1 diabetes are often forgotten or misunderstood. We need to give them their dignity back. We need to pay tribute to the families, to the caregivers and the nonprofits who fight this battle. We need to acknowledge that there is no cure and that we need one. This is my way to fight for a sweet life.
Sometimes, other type 1s (T1s) have asked me where I find the strength to live beyond. First, I think I am not even as strong as them, because I have been fighting this battle for such a short time. They are the real heroes, sometimes fighting this disease for their whole lives. But if telling what gives me the strength to live my life to the fullest could inspire others, I’d be happy to share it.
If I could help just one person, then I would have done something worthwhile. So here is my advice:
- Accept that you can’t change it.
- Think about everything you have.
- Admire beauty in the little things around you.
- Always find a reason to smile.
- Enjoy every moment and capture the good times.
- Be proud of your achievements, even the small ones.
- Focus on what’s important.
- Grow from the bad times and ignore mean people.
- Connect with others, they will give you faith in humanity.
- Find your tribe and love them hard.
- Be the reason someone smiles today.
- Every day is a new beginning: take a deep breath and start again!
I am just beginning my journey with this new reality but I understood that others have gone before me and their story can only help light the way. The T1D community on Instagram is a blessing for newly diagnosed like me. Today I want to see my diabetes as something that makes me strive to live life to the fullest. I hope that my story will inspire others and that my experience can help someone else along their journey. We live a daily-life that is almost unimaginable for ordinary people. I hope you feel extraordinary, because you definitely are.
And remember, happiness is not the absence of problems, it is the ability to deal with them. Let’s all be type 1 happy!
To learn more about the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Beyond Type Run team click here.