Superstar Mentality: An Interview with Dempsey Foxson

WRITTEN BY: Dempsey Foxson

Dempsey wrote a story for Beyond Type 1 a few years ago and was recently the subject of the documentary, Dempsey the Diabetic Superhero. Her mom conducted the following interview to bring people up to speed on her current activities.

What are you doing now?

I just started middle school this year. I’m still training as a competitive gymnast and hoping to compete level 8 this season and I’m dancing for The Company at Superstars Dance Academy, so my schedule is jam-packed. I basically do school, dance, gym and squeeze in a little time with friends and family.

How has your diabetes management changed?

I have the Dexcom G6 and went back to MDI because I was running out of places to put the Omnipod – with gymnastics, I could only wear the pod on my arms and they needed a break. I love the G6 – no finger pricks is a game-changer!

What is your gymnastics/dance schedule?

I do gymnastics 4 days a week and I dance 2 days a week… I am usually at the gym or dance studio between 4-5 hours per day.

How did your gymnastics season go last year?

Good.  (Editor’s note: Dempsey was the Level 7 State Beam Champion and then went on to win Level 7 Regionals All-Around and Beam – she had an amazing season.)

How did your dance season go last year?

Dance is definitely a new passion in my life! I love the conventions, learning new dances and making new friends.  Performing my first solo was definitely a season highlight.

What have you learned about competition and diabetes?

I have learned that when I’m nervous or scared, my blood sugar will shoot up. I usually let my blood sugar ride a little higher then normal during a meet or performance just to avoid low blood sugar. I also try not to bolus any insulin two hours prior to competing or performing. Practices are probably the toughest place for me to keep steady because I am the gym and studio for four to five hours. But with Dexcom and cellphones, I just make corrections as needed and try to check in as much as possible.  When my blood sugar is whacky, my mom texts and calls me repeatedly until I respond.

What are your favorite low carb snacks?

Cucumbers, bell peppers, and pickles.

Do you have any tips for newly diagnosed kids?

I know it can be scary at the beginning, but you will figure it out. My advice is do not give up the things you love to do. Also, know there will be a lot of ups and downs and you just have to do your best. When we have rough days and blood sugars just won’t cooperate my mom tells me, “Let’s hit the reset button.”

How can coaches help their Type 1 athletes?

They need to be understanding and realize we might have to take occasional breaks to manage our blood sugar.  My mom writes a letter to all of my coaches and instructors that explains my condition and what I need to do.

How do your friends and teammates help and support you?

My friends are great they always want to help me with my tools and ask me what my number is. Sometimes they eat my low stash. They know what numbers are high and low and what I need to do.  They also put up with my mom texting them if she can’t reach me. They are the best!

Have you been involved in any Type 1 diabetes advocacy?

I had a great opportunity to be involved in a documentary sponsored by the ADA called Dempsey the Diabetic Superhero. It is a short film following me around while I am doing gymnastics and taking care of my diabetes. Recently, my friends at the company have decided to help promote Diabetes Awareness month and have been posting pictures with the Dexcom finger for the #nomorefingerpricks campaign.  I love it when my friends can help me raise awareness about this condition because I think there are a lot of people who do not know all of the facts.

Read more about Dempsey HERE.

Dempsey Foxson

Dempsey Foxson is in sixth grade and lives in Southern California. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2012 when she was five years old. When she is not at the gym or dance studio, Dempsey loves spending time with friends, hanging out at the beach, playing with her dog, and being with her family. Dempsey has two brothers – one is 14 and the other is eight. The youngest also has Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed through Trialnet.