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Emilee Herringshaw

Type 1 Diabetes Success Story

Emilee was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at two years old. Today, she’s an MD/MBA student at UMass Medical School, planning a career in the dermatology field. Her goal is to provide a better health care experience for patients, and she will apply what she’s learned living with T1D. The dual degree program helps students develop a medicine mindset and apply it to research or patient care.

She received diabetes care at various places throughout Massachusetts, growing up in Western Mass, then attending Boston College. Emilee appreciates the comprehensive team approach to diabetes care offered at the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE). "Dr. [David] Harlan is my endocrinologist, but he’s also been a mentor as I enter the medical world.” Emilee has also taken advantage of diabetes education and behavioral healthcare that are available to patients at Worcester’s UMass DCOE.  “These are the best diabetes providers I’ve ever had, because they’re the first providers to ever listen to me and value my input when it comes to my treatment and care plan.”

Growing up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Emilee enjoyed playing field hockey, running and working out. She still runs nearly every day and stays active in the gym. She’s thankful for the diabetes management technology that has improved over the past decade, helping to keep her blood glucose in target range during various situations. The transition to medical school was a major change in lifestyle for her.  Working with one of the behavioral health specialists at the UMass Memorial DCOE was helpful, and she believes it will help her with future transitions during her life.

While Emilee has always been “diligent and persistent” in managing her diabetes, and has a strong support system, the mental aspect of learning how to integrate it into everyday life has been challenging. “My personality is one who likes to do something and finish it, but that’s not how diabetes works,” she said.  During her teenage years and throughout most of her college career, Emilee opted to not discuss her diabetes with others because she didn’t feel it would be met with the level of understanding that would make her comfortable. 

While attending Boston College, she declared as a Medical Humanities minor. It allowed her to explore and learn about the culture of illness and healthcare and how it affects people differently. Emilee joined the JDRF Young Leadership Committee, made up of young professionals in the greater Boston area.  “I appreciated the positivity that I encountered from this group,” she said. “It wasn’t a pity party, because that’s not my thing. We focus on how we can make the best of this hand we’ve been dealt, and we promote diabetes advocacy.”

After graduating from BC with a biochemistry degree, she worked in Boston's financial district and as a lead medical assistant in a dermatology office, before deciding to pursue a medical career.

Emilee engages in creative writing about her T1D. She has written many reflective pieces, like this one published by The College Diabetes Network, titled “What Drives You?”

She enjoys narrative medicine to communicate as a patient and to shine a light on the complexities of the health care system. Emilee co-founded The Medical Humanities Journal of Boston College with the intention to develop a platform to write about issues of health, illness, bioethics and caregiving. “I believe medical humanities enables individuals living with illness to really capture and take ownership of their disease,” she said.  Not only has Emilee taken ownership of her diabetes, but it’s taught her valuable lessons that will benefit her future patients as she embarks on her medical career.

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