Many Faces of Diabetes

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In honor of National Diabetes Month, friends and associates share stories of their struggles, their hopes, and why they support research at PNDRI. The substantial expertise of our scientists, coupled with the urgent need for a solution to the global epidemic, keeps diabetes at the forefront of research at PNDRI. 

Our Stories...


I was diagnosed with type 2 in 2010. It's on my mom's side and I was already in my 40s and I thought maybe I had my dad's genes! I've done some things to change my lifestyle, I gave up rice, and my doctor says I'm doing great. But it would be great to have a support group, other people to do this with. -- Alma Rivera, PNDRI Staff


The Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute has a very special place in my heart. Diabetes touches my family directly. My son has lived with the hour to hour and day to day management for 15 years. At PNDRI, we expect and anticipate breakthrough discoveries that will one day prevent and cure diabetes. We have justified enthusiasm. -- Linda Mauzy, PNDRI Trustee

I had a been a Clinical Coordinator at PNDRI for 8 years when I suddenly started noticing all the symptoms I counsel research participants about in my own child. She was drinking and peeing excessively, and so cranky. "There's no way" I thought, but I brought home a glucometer from work just to be sure. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes that night. But I am so thankful that my background has made our transition to diabetes a little easier. Type 1 diabetes doesn't play by any rules, and requires a constancy that is exhausting for both the individual and their family. But I know that great things are coming, and Greta is not going to have to live with this forever. -- Claire Crouch, Clinical Coordinator, TEDDY Program, PNDRI

Growing up with a sister and brother both diagnosed with T1D taught me at a very young age the delicate balance between nutrition, blood sugar levels, and insulin.  Diabetes awareness and advocacy have always been a part of my family life. I am encouraged by the advancements in science and ever hopeful a cure for diabetes will be discovered. -- Cindy Haba (on the right), PNDRI Trustee

My name is Kieran "Kiki" Boyle. I play high school basketball in one of the most competitive leagues in the state. My toughest opponent is not another player: it's type 1 diabetes. It is relentless, with me when I wake up in the morning, all day and all night. I'm fighting type 1 diabetes all day every day. Won't you join the fight? -- Kiki Boyle, Friend of PNDRI

Being only 8 years old and having to learn how to count carbohydrates was definitely not easy. When I was first diagnosed, I had no clue what diabetes was. The first question my parents asked was, "Will my son make it?" My first question, though, "Can I still play sports?" That child in me still loves that story. Growing up I was interested in all sorts of things, from basketball to ballet. I had to make some adjustments for my workouts and rehearsals (more water breaks to check my blood sugar) but I still do everything I can. -- Trevor Meacham, Friend of PNDRI

Forty-five years of being diabetic and I was never angry until it happened to my son. Now, I’m angry. Now, I’m doing what I can to end this. -- Ann Martin, Friend of PNDRI

My son was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of nine. The emotions a parent goes through when a child is diagnosed with a chronic illness are indescribable. I couldn't give him anything to make this go away...this couldn't be treated with plenty of rest or bowls of chicken soup. This was forever (maybe), and I felt powerless. The one thing I could do was to get involved with advocacy. It's what I do, and will continue to do, until there's a cure. -- Lynn Kern, PNDRI Trustee

After 40 years of living with Type 1 Diabetes, I'm confident that the connections I have to other Type 1s is a key to staying healthy and complication-free. There's nothing like another Type 1 to keep you honest about your care - usually in a hilarious manner. I helped to start ConnecT1D to make sure that everyone with T1D had a chance to know someone else with T1D. ConnecT1D has programs and social opportunities for adults, for parents of kids with T1D, for teens and for athletes. -- Jake Johnston, co-Founder of ConnecT1D and friend of PNDRI

PNDRI's Principal Investigator, Dr. Bill Hagopian, was selected by the World Diabetes Day Seattle Committee to receive the 2014 Diabetes Community Leader Award. This award recognizes and honor individuals in the diabetes, scientific and medical community who have demonstrated strong leadership and who have made significant contributions through their research and/or in the healthcare setting. Congratulations, Dr. Hagopian, from your colleagues and friends at PNDRI!

Dr. R. Paul Robertson was my doctor. He inspires me. His research is so exciting and makes me hopeful for a cure. -- Carol Heimkes, Friend of PNDRI

I have spent over 50 years studying patients with diabetes and performing biochemical studies involving beta cells. It is sobering to realize that, despite all the progress scientists have made with this disease in the past, we have an ongoing epidemic. Now was exactly the wrong time for NIH and other organizations to have decreased funding for diabetes research. We need the rest of the world to step up and replace those lost funds so we can continue and intensify the fight against this disease. -- Paul Robertson, M.D. Ph.D, PNDRI Principal Investigator   

Lindsay Gossack was a Montana high schooler running cross-country and getting ready for college when she was diagnosed with type 1. “I was devastated,” she says. “My health has always been very important to me. Now, my life was changed.” Lindsay changed her plans for college, staying closer to home, and quit running. "I was discouraged from running by my doctor.” Eight years later, though, Lindsay's life has normalized. She works at PNDRI, recently got married, and she returned to running. "I  finished a 31-mile ultra-marathon. Having type 1 is a great excuse to stay as healthy as possible. Besides,” she says with a smile, “I like to prove my doctors wrong.”

Diabetes has had a dramatic impact on my family and the lives of millions of others. I believe the effective treatment of diabetes will be authored by the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute. -- Ron Sims, former Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and PNDRI Trustee

I love science and one of the great things about working with children in long-term studies is being able to engage their curiosity and intellect in the world of research and science. TEDDY is helping bring up a new generation of scientists and we will be amazed at what they do next. -- Michael Killian, Clinical Research Manager of TEDDY Study at PNDRI (These are Michael's sons exploring the clinic.)

I see the deep passion in the scientists here at PNDRI, our supporters, and our community to make a difference in the lives of people who have been touched by diabetes. This passion provides me with daily inspiration to do the best that I can to bring hope through our research to those living with, and touched by, diabetes. -- John Wecker, Ph.D., President & CEO of PNDRI


After 20 years of type I diabetes, I have learned to make my world fit around my needs and lifestyle. But I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to simply have a late dinner with friends without doing the math and watching my blood sugar for the next four hours. My hope is that we cure type I for all so that everyone, especially children, never have to do the same calculus and avoid the long term complications that are part of the territory also. -- Stephan Martinez, PNDRI Trustee

I was diagnosed with t1d when I was 11 months old so I don't remember life before shots and finger pokes. In the 24 years since my diagnosis, there have been so many improvements in technology and disease management that make the challenges of living with diabetes a little less difficult. It gives me real hope that continued research will lead to a cure or even prevention of the disease in the future. -- Brittany Berndahl, Friend of PNDRI

The numbers which describe the national and global impact of type 2 diabetes, both in terms of human suffering and dollars spent, are almost too large to fathom. Healthcare costs are $245 billion per year, nearly 1% of our Gross National Product Over 8% of Americans have type 2 diabetes including celebrities Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Paula Deen, Paul Sorvino, Delta Burke, Dick Clark, Billie Jean King, Patti LaBelle, Larry King, and Drew Carey.