Kids with type 1 diabetes are among the estimated 200,000 young people living with the disease in the United States. Each year, roughly 40,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. A diagnosis is challenging, especially for kids with type 1, but many are thriving and living inspirational lives.
Diabetes Self-Management and JDRF have a shared vision: to promote the advancement of type 1 diabetes research by spotlighting the dedicated sugar type 1 diabetes champions from across the U.S. In this series, we asked some young patients about friends, new tech, friends, advice and more.
Bruno Malecha, 12, Juneau, Alaska
How old were you when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and please describe your journey.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes March 2, 2008. I was 18 months old. We were living on Baranof Island at a remote fisheries research station called Little Port Walter. My parents say I had all the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes and even went to the doctor the week before when we were in Juneau, but no one caught it. It wasn’t until I stopped eating and drinking, got really tired, and started breathing funny that my parents got scared. They knew I needed to see a doctor, but didn’t know how sick I was. It was too windy to get a floatplane in, so we took a helicopter to Bartlett Hospital in Juneau. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis (which is life-threatening) and was flown in a Learjet to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
What is the hardest part about managing type 1 diabetes? And how do you turn these challenges into positives?
Managing and treating high and low blood sugars. I try to learn from them so I can improve my management.
How did you become involved with the JDRF?
My parents got involved when I was a toddler.
Any JDRF community service projects or initiatives?
My cousin Olive (she lives in Seattle) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year. Our families walked in the Seattle Beat the Bridge fundraiser and raised lots of money for JDRF.
What have you found to be the most useful diabetes technology?
Last August I got the Medtronic 670G Pump. It has really improved my time in range and given me more independence.
How do your friends and family support you?
My family gives me moral support and encourages me when times are tough or when I get down.
What are some of your favorite activities?
Hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, gaming, archery and shooting sports.
What is your favorite diabetes-friendly meal and why?
Pork chops and Alaska seafood because it’s yummy and carb free.