Last Saturday, I delivered a research update at a JDRF Family Retreat in Greensboro. The event has grown exponentially and the executive director of our local JDRF chapter told me that we had over 800(!) people attend. The sprawling Grandover Resort was abuzz with families who were learning from healthcare professionals, attending lectures and connecting with others "T1 families." Parents had binders full of info and product brochures under their arms. Children were chasing each other throughout the halls - laughing in glee - some meeting other T1D kids for the very first time. What made it so special was that siblings and family members without the disease were just as much a part of the action as those with diabetes. Moms and Daddybetics like me could all bond and commiserate together.
The audience for my speech was made of newly diagnosed families. The expansive ballroom was packed with moms, dads, grandparents and kids who wanted to hear what kind of science JDRF has been finding to get us closer to a cure and better therapeutics (like the artificial pancreas). They were hungry for news. They were hungry for hope.
As I met with a few of the attendees after my speech, I could see a reflection of myself in them. It brought me sharply back to a point in time near Cassie's diagnosis - a time where I was simultaneously overwhelmed with information yet eager for more data.
I could almost literally feel their emotions course through their hands into mine as I took their hands. These raw emotions of fear, confusion and sadness rushed through me. It was a vivid, deja vu-like experience that left me physically spent for the rest of the weekend. Seeing where they were - only a few months into a life changing diagnosis - took me back to the same dark, dark place where I had once been. The experience rekindled my resolve to keep pushing for a cure even more.