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Sandra Gruca

Type 1 Diabetes Success Story


Sandy has been living with type 1 diabetes for 36 years.  Her competitive nature was evident as a successful collegiate softball player.  She continues to play softball and has also been coaching for the past 6 years.  In addition to competing on the field, Sandy battles diabetes each day.  She's motivated to control it and not allow diabetes to define her.  After many years, Sandy finally agreed to use an insulin pump, for which she credits the healthy birth of her three children.  Years later, she finally agreed to using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which she calls “a game changer.”  

Sandy’s determination to properly manage her diabetes was fueled 12 years ago when her middle child was diagnosed with T1D at the age of four.  She stays connected with others living with type 1 diabetes, through the online community “Glu,” where she offers and receives wisdom and support.  Sandy acknowledges some days are better than others, however, diabetes requires diligence and “takes no days off.”  One day, when she was feeling particularly down, she commented to someone about how he always seems upbeat and positive.  His response of “optimism is a choice” resonated with her and she accepts that each day will provide an opportunity to start fresh. 

Sandy credits the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence care team who “truly understand how difficult diabetes self-management can be and they respect those of us living with it everyday.”  When she first met Dr. David Harlan, he requested permission to enter her cell number into his phone.  She agreed, never thinking he would use it.  However, the day after starting a new medication, Sandy received a call from Dr. Harlan, on "a Saturday morning nonetheless," to see how she was managing.  She says it was during that conversation with Dr. Harlan that she finally began to feel that she wasn't alone in her battle against diabetes.  "For that, I'll be forever grateful."   

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