#MollysKids: Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day

“I’m good with words, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words when describing what it’s like to live with an incurable disease.”
Jaycie Beam and family at her college graduation.
Jaycie Beam and family at her college graduation.(Beam family photo)
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 10:51 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Jaycie Beam is age 10 in this photo. It was about the time she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Jaycie Beam, age 10
Jaycie Beam, age 10(Beam family photo)

She’s now a 23-year-old, confident woman wanting you to know it’s World Diabetes Day.

“The everyday highs and lows are my long-standing new normal,” she said about her own diagnosis. “I’m good with words, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words when describing what it’s like to live with an incurable disease.”

Jaycie and I met in March at a Business Symposium at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory. I was speaking about exactly that: Words. Last week she emailed, reminding me how I said, “Words can define, describe, and sometimes, destroy our thoughts, feelings, and actions. They can hurt, explain, or lift up and be beautiful.”

Molly Grantham (left) and Jaycie Beam
Molly Grantham (left) and Jaycie Beam(Beam family photo)

“I agree with all that,” Jaycie said. “But words hit a whole new, deeper-meaning when parents hear, ‘Your child has Type 1 diabetes.’ That’s what my family heard in May of 2009. Those words altered their lives, my childhood, and gave me a forever-different perspective on life.”

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, so insulin must then be given through an insulin pump or multiple daily injections.

Jaycie says she has learned to live with positivity around her added medical obligations.

“I’ve learned that despite a difficult diagnosis which will impact your daily life, you can do anything—and I mean anything!—you set your mind to,” she said. “I was a shy child but talking about the world of diabetes I’m forced to live in, has taught me to speak more publicly. I spoke at that 2022 CVCC Business Symposium! That felt surreal. I’m now a confident adult, and was proud to not only speak there, but also to have been chosen as a graduate representative to speak at the 2022 Commencement at Lenoir-Rhyne University.”

Jaycie says the past 13-plus years of living with Type 1, has taught her “patience, time management, self-discipline, and a never-ending life balancing act.”

[Senate support for an insulin price cap gaining momentum]

“The diagnosed inspired me to support others and to be a mentor,” she said. “I now volunteer at the Charlotte JDRF Chapter and share my story when I can. I want people to know that Type 1 diabetes often goes undiagnosed for many months, can lead to long-term complications.

“Signs are often confused with other flu-like illnesses. According to the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), symptoms include frequent urination, extreme thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, weakness, increased appetite, unexplained weight loss, and delayed healing.”

Why share Jaycie’s story today? November 14 is World Diabetes Day. It’s the birthday of the co-discoverer of insulin, Frederick Banting, and as Jaycie pointed out, without insulin, thousands of people—including her and her dad, who lives with Type 1.5 (LADA)—wouldn’t survive.

“When honoring the meaning behind Nov. 14, include words like ‘bravery,’ ‘self-reliance,’ ‘determination,’ ‘advocacy,’ and ‘responsibility’ to describe how life-changing a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis feels,” Jaycie said. “I understand those words. They’re why I choose to be an advocate for myself, my father, and others.”

If you’d like to further educate yourself on Type 1, go here.

Two good Facebook groups to check out: Charlotte T1D Parents and “ACT1-Adults Conquering Type 1.”

“I hope a cure can one day be found,” Jaycie said. “Having diabetes can be hard and seem unfair, but the bright side is forming connections with others and talking with those who have a safe space for you to share the real side of life. It’s my hope this message will shed light on others in a dark place.”