Day-to-day life with a chronic disease can be challenging, and for those with type 1 diabetes (T1D), getting support is paramount for those trying to live healthier and safer lives.
Today more than 300,000 Canadians live with T1D and it's growing at a rate of three-five per cent a year, attacking young people — notably kids under the age of 14.
Ongoing research by organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has made the autoimmune disease manageable.
Insulin and other interventions are letting kids and adults live healthier lives today while work towards a cure progresses.
The TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes has been taking place in different cities throughout the province this month and on Sunday one Parksville teenager will be walking for a cure for a disease that she has been juggling since she was diagnosed in 2009.
Fourteen-year-old Lindsay Pilton has raised over $8,000 for the JDRF.
This will be the fourth year she has participated in the annual walk for a cure.
Her fundraising campaign for the June 9 walk which takes place in Victoria is already well over $1,000.
Lindsay's mother Carla said her daughter relies on insulin injections to keep her alive and because that is not a cure Lindsay is doing her part to fundraise for research into T1D.
"That is why she does the walk. We all want a cure. A lot of the funds raised go to new ways of managing the disease which is really important," Carla acknowledged.
She pointed out that when managing T1D there are a lot of factors involved on a daily basis.
She explained that Lindsay who is on an insulin pump must count every carbohydrate she puts in her mouth.
"It's really complicated. But despite the challenges Lindsay has made it part of her life and she doesn't complain. She's a trooper," Carla emphasized.
Parksville Pharmacist/owner Tammie Toriglia agreed that Lindsay is a shining example of how young people can live a normal life despite the disease.
"We have been supporting Lindsay for as long as she has had diabetes," Toriglia stated. Last year Parksville Pharmasave helped Lindsay fundraise for diabetes and this year they wanted to do even more and collected donations in the store for Lindsay's campaign.
They presented Lindsay with a $500 cheque and Toriglia expressed how proud they are of Lindsay and her positive attitude.
"We want people to have the philosophy that even though they have diabetes they control diabetes it doesn't control them and Lindsay is the perfect example of somebody who has embraced that."
Toriglia has a special interest in diabetes and has been a Certified Diabetes Educator since 2002.
She volunteers regularly at the Parksville Diabetes Education Centre and is certified in Medication Management to give injections.
She explained that it is difficult especially for the kids who have T1D because they have to be regimented in what they do and for a lot of families it is not easy.
"They are testing their blood sugars sometimes 10 times a day. A lot of them have insulin pumps which are the latest technology and its great ... but it requires them to be very motivated to understand how their insulin works and what they are eating and how much they are eating. They have to count carbohydrates and make adjustments based on their exercise. You have to figure out how it will affect your blood sugars and the amount of insulin that you give yourself. It's a complicated lifestyle for them but one that with the help of a lot of people it becomes part of their life."
She noted that when kids turn 16 and want to get their drivers license they have to have super good blood sugar control or their doctors won't even let them apply.
She said for parents who have children under the age of six with T1D is can be especially challenging because they have to watch every morsel of food that goes into their child's mouth.
Parksville mom Elaine Shworan, whose 11-year-old son Jimmy was diagnosed with T1D three years ago acknowledged that living with the disease has been a struggle but it is getting easier now that he is on an insulin pump.
"Before the pump he had to do several injections a day. He had to do his own injections while he was at school. He couldn't leave hospital until he could inject himself. It is scary to put a needle in your body for the rest of your life," Elaine admitted.
She said because her son is into sports in a big way it has been particularly difficult.