Shelley has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 22 years. Shelley has worked hard to teach others about diabetes and support those living with diabetes. Humor and strong relationships and work to improve lives for those in her community are just part of her story of resilience.

What is the weirdest question you’ve been asked about your diabetes, and how did you respond?
“Did your parents give you too much sugar when you were a baby?” I tend to use humor when dealing with frustrating questions about diabetes so I replied, “YES! I didn’t know what a vegetable was until I was 10 years old.”

Has anyone told you that you couldn’t do something due to your diabetes, and you proved them wrong?
I was told by many and my parents that I could not go on  a camping trip when I was in middle school. I was in the outdoors club and they had planned a trip to the Smokey Mountains. I begged my parents to go and even worked to get additional support from the school and the school nurse (who agreed to go with us!). I finally was able to go and maintained great control of my blood sugars the whole time. We camped and hiked for 9 days without phone service and it is still one of my favorite memories!

How do you inspire others?
I like to think of life and especially life with diabetes as an adventure. I make sure to include fun and compassion in my daily life. I am working towards my graduate degree in Social Work so that I can continue to work with other people with diabetes and support them.  As one of my favorite artists, Amos Kennedy, says: “Life is short, while you’ve got it make something of it!”

Tell us a story about how diabetes has affected you.
Diabetes has connected me with so many wonderful individuals. Growing up I went to diabetes camp- summers that significantly impacted me and made my life better.  Later, I was able to work at a diabetes camp and help younger people with diabetes and share my lessons and tips and bad jokes with them. 🙂  Diabetes helps me to appreciate the small and big things in life and has enabled me to have more empathy for people living with chronic illnesses.

How has diabetes contributed to forming you into the person you are today? Mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Diabetes has inspired me to think differently about my body and how complex it is.  I am stronger after living with diabetes and I am able to connect more with people living with chronic illness.  I have seen and I believe that social support is an important part of our lives.  Diabetes has contributed to my social networks and the work I am pursuing.

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 regular sized ducks?
I would rather fight one horse sized duck!

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