Mallory Boyd is currently a Junior at Furman University in Greenville, SC where she is majoring in Sociology and concentrating in Poverty Studies. She is a middle child with a younger brother who also has juvenile diabetes. She loves to cook and is involved with researching the accessibility of farmer’s markets for low-income consumers. After college Mallory would like to attend some sort of agriculture, culinary program that also focuses on nutrition. While she was diagnosed at 9 with diabetes, she is proud to say she has never been hospitalized for any complications, and never had a seizure due to a low blood sugar level!
How old were you when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how long have you lived with diabetes? I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 9 on March 31, 2000 (the day my family and I was supposed to leave for our Spring Break trip to Florida). I just celebrated my 11th year with diabetes during my study away trip actually in Botswana! (My brother was also diagnosed with diabetes a year and a half following my diagnosis as well.)
What do you feel has been your biggest challenge living with diabetes as a woman?
Controlling my diabetes and growing up as a woman with diabetes. Although I am only 20, and have lived more of my life with diabetes than without, I still have difficulty balancing life with diabetes. Specifically, communicating the unexplained high blood sugars and ketones I often have. This affects my overall attitude and because I am reluctant to excuse myself, for fear of others’ reactions, I unnecessarily remain in silence and remain uncomfortable for no reason.
Do you know any other women with diabetes?
I was lucky enough to have been heavily involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since my diagnosis. As a result of both my parent’s involvement and my own willingness to talk about my diabetes with newly diagnosed patients, I have come to know many people with diabetes. My younger brother was diagnosed a year and a half after me, so my doctor visits became our visits. Still, many of the people I was surrounded with were males. When I entered college, on my first day of class, I sat with a young lady and all of the sudden a beeping noise commanded my attention. I noticed it wasn’t my pump (as mine had decided to break the night before my first day of college classes) but hers. We then proceeded to share our respective stories of life with diabetes and have run into one another several times to talk.
What has been the greatest piece of advice you’ve received about living with diabetes?
I am not sure one single piece of advice really stands out to me. Whether it is the fact that I cannot remember life without diabetes or the countless things I have been told, retold, and committed to following, many pieces of advice have shaped my life with diabetes. One particular point of advice I have appreciated was that having diabetes was not really going to change my life, only slightly alter some essential things of my life.
Being diagnosed at a relatively young age played into the discussion of life with diabetes at the time, however my parents’ commitment to providing me the best education and opportunities to managing my diabetes enabled me to not be devastated. Also, being reminded that diabetes will shape my life as much as I let it, allowed me to take control early on. I appreciate each wave of advice I have received over the years, even if it was the promise of a cure, for it has allowed me the opportunity to make diabetes a responsibility and not so much a chronic disease.
Do you live: in spite of or because of diabetes?
Having diabetes is the reason I was able to take command, early on, in the direction of which my life was headed; physically and mentally. It has challenged me and driven me not to be complacent. Without diabetes I do not think I would have been given the opportunities to reach out to so many people. Having diabetes and another sibling with this disease has allowed me to see how much it effects others. Still, I do not live simply in spite of my diabetes or because of my diagnosis. I think it has largely shaped my desires to know in depth about my health, but it has never really limited large parts of my life.