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Sophie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) shortly after her 11th birthday and just weeks after beginning 6th grade.  “I knew nothing about the disease and didn’t know anyone who had it.” 

Nearly seven years later she graduated from vocational high school where she studied to become an electrician.  Sophie was hired as an Electrical Apprentice during her senior year and successfully juggled both school and her job.  

She works closely with her care team at the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) to adjust pump settings and ratios based on her long days, much of which consists of manual labor.   

“Dr. Feldman is fantastic,” said Sophie.  “I love her sense of humor and she’s helpful with every aspect of my diabetes.  Best of all she focuses on my overall health, which is important to me.”

She also raved about nurse Emilie for taking an interest in her life and incorporating her ideas to develop her personalized diabetes care plan.  “She’s extremely knowledgeable because she also has T1D.  We make decisions together after looking at my CGM and pump data.”  

Sophie recommends that young people surrounded themselves with a supportive group of people who understand diabetes and know what to do in an emergency.  

Six weeks after diagnosis Sophie attended the Barton Center’s “WACkY Weekend” where she met dozens of girls and boys between the ages of 6-13, all living with T1D.  “Meeting the other kids was the coolest thing to me.  Not only was it fun, but it made me realize I was not alone.”

Sophie attended Diabetes Camp for five consecutive summers and last year worked as a Counselor-in-Training (CIT).  “At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like camp…but it’s the best thing I ever did.”  She stays in touch with her “camp community,” and many of them are in a group text chat where they share ideas and suggestions. 

She’s also the volunteer co-chair of the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Youth Leadership Program and she interacts with and mentors other young people from throughout New England living with type 1 diabetes.  Sophie’s photo is featured on the ADA’s national 2019 Step Out Walk poster and she has personally fundraised more than $3000 over the past two years!

“It’s not just about walking,” she said. “I also serve as a diabetes advocate helping to spread the word about important issues affecting people living with diabetes.  So many people don’t understand type 1 diabetes.  I try to educate at least one new person each day.”     

Sophie admits that living with diabetes can be challenging.  She experienced “diabetes burnout” around the age of 13.  “I became sick of wearing my pump and was tired of managing diabetes every day,” she said.  “It becomes a burden and can cause depression.”

Sophie began to see the behavioral psychologist at the UMass DCOE who specializes in pediatric diabetes.  “She was wonderful.  She helped me through a number of concerns and explained that if you don’t take care of diabetes, it creates a wave of other health issues years down the road.”

She took a two week “pump break” and decided to give insulin injections instead.  “I did it during summer camp which made it easier, however, I quickly realized how much I missed and needed my pump.”

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