Rachel Henderson

Team Captain Thr1ve 2015 TELUS Walk-Fraser Valley


October 2012 life was busy with preschool and all the new learning that a 3 year old does.  He’d always been a bit intense; full of energy and it would spin off him and get the rest of us spinning to recover as we chased him around.  Preschool seemed a good thing, by October he was often content to sit and listen to stories for hours, he wasn’t eating as much and we thought that perhaps he’d just finished a growth spurt of sorts and was cycling through a period of lower calorie demands.  We all know how kids grow… they eat everything in sight for a week or so then they sleep and grow. 

Something else was up though, car trips, even relatively short ones became torture for him and he returned to diapers in the day.  He was drinking so much water.   This we knew was odd…  we entertained various ideas.  Maybe the newish routine of preschool was stressing him and he was regressing… but that didn’t explain the excess drinking.  Maybe it was a bladder infection or something of the like.  Maybe it was Diabetes. 

A trip to the walk-in clinic and 2 simple tests changed everything.  The pediatrician on call attended within 30 minutes and proceeded to spend the next hours out in the hall on the phone with various children’s wards securing us a bed for the weeklong hospital stay.  We were told we had one hour to get from White Rock to home to pick up supplies for the week and check in to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Despite the whirlwind of learning that we did… and that we had technical understanding of all the processes at play.  Despite all the research into daily management and what’s on the horizon for a cure.  Still there was a deep and irrational longing for this diagnosis and the doctors to be all wrong.  We needed to wake up from this nightmare and return to our beautiful, relatively carefree and healthy lives together as a family and watch our son grow.


Wake up we do.  At least 2 times a night actually.  At 5 he is still not aware of his blood sugars and the night presents a special danger.  If we catch a low we will sit up and feed and retest and if it’s persistent feed again and retest… this can wake us for an hour… 

Did you know everything affects blood sugar? Some things more than others… anticipating where the blood sugar is going is a challenge.  Is he feeling anxious or excited… maybe he’s relaxed, is he growing?  Maybe he’s getting sick.  Hummm I wonder how much fat was in that… how long for it to digest.  Counting, counting, counting carbohydrates.  Calculating dosages.  Pricks and pokes, clean it with alcohol, drink more water, lots of it.  We should retest that doesn’t seem right.  Is this skin ever going to heal? Just stop and sit, you can’t play ‘til you blood sugar is up. 

For all the things we know and all the wonderful technologies and advancements in care for people with type one diabetes there is a lot that we don’t know and it is still not easy.


Well as parents we’ve been asking for a cure since the day we learned his diagnosis. 

This month he’s been talking about a cure a lot more… Not like his first walk… where we’d not communicated quite clearly enough.  We had finished the TELUS Walk for a Cure and he said “Now I don’t have diabetes anymore because I walked for a cure”.  He’d still been agreeable the hour later when we had to give him a needle.  Now he has a longing.  To be like his friends and not have to prick his finger, not have to wait to eat his food, not have to cram down sugar tabs, not have to sit out, not have to wake up, not have needles or site changes and not have to worry about dying or complications from type one diabetes.

With a fighting spirit and a positive outlook he has a rich experience.  Passions for sports like hockey and soccer captivate him and he loses himself in the pleasures of play.  Kindergarten has brought beautiful friendships and explosions in learning.  Interesting rocks, animals and plants are so interesting.  “Mom, how does a person go about becoming King?” started another discussion.  He’s exploring his potential in the world; what will he be when he grows up.  Right now the dream is to be a Judge, play recreationally in the NHL and live on a farm with all kinds of plants and animals.

Our dream is for him to Thr1ve.  The innovations in technologies for better care and the research being done to find a cure for type one diabetes funded through the JRDF is helping him Thr1ve.  Please join our team.  Walk with us June 14, 2015 at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford, or donate to our walk to raise funds for a cure.



Type 1 Diabetes   

About T1D

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it.

Affects Children and Adults

T1D strikes both children and adults at any age. It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.

Needs Constant Attention

Living with T1D is a constant challenge. People with the disease must carefully balance insulin doses (either by injections multiple times a day or continuous infusion through a pump) with eating and daily activities throughout the day and night. They must also test their blood sugar by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. Despite this constant attention, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerous high or low blood sugar levels, both of which can be life-threatening. People with T1D overcome these challenges on a daily basis.

Not Cured By Insulin

While insulin injections or infusion allow a person with T1D to stay alive, they do not cure the disease, nor do they necessarily prevent the possibility of the disease’s serious effects, which may include: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputations, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications.

Perseverance and Hope

Although T1D is a serious and difficult disease, treatment options are improving all the time, and people with T1D can lead full and active lives. JDRF is driving research to improve the technology people with T1D use to monitor blood sugar levels and deliver the proper doses of insulin, as well as research that will ultimately deliver a cure.


  • More than 300,000 Canadians live with T1D.1
  • The rate of T1D incidence among children under the age of 14 is estimated to increase by three per cent annually worldwide. 2 
  • The life expectancy for people with T1D may be shortened by as much as 15 years.3

Warning Signs

Warning signs of T1D may occur suddenly and include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sugar in the urine
  • Fruity odor on the breath
  • Heavy or labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness4

What is it Like to Have T1D?

Ask people who have T1D, and they will tell you: It’s difficult. It’s upsetting. It’s life-threatening. It never goes away. But, at the same time, people with T1D serve as an inspiration by facing the disease’s challenges with courage and perseverance and don’t let it stand in the way of achieving their goals.


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