Living and Thriving with Type 1 Diabetes

This week, as part of our guest blog series that gives readers an opportunity to read expert advice from leaders across the analytics, wellness and health industries and in honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, this post features Victoria Cumbow, Development Manager at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Middle Tennessee. At JDRF, Victoria, herself a type 1 diabetic and endurance athlete, works to raise awareness and money to fund research of diabetes and encourage those with the disease to get outside and get active.

Around the world, people are wearing blue throughout November to bring awareness to diabetes in celebration of National Diabetes Awareness Month. Regardless of the type of diabetes, this month, we’re all working together to bring awareness to an incurable disease. While I advocate for type 1 diabetes (T1D) awareness throughout the year, November is my favorite month because it’s full of activities and events that shine a light on diabetes. (It might also be my favorite month because of Thanksgiving and macaroni-n-cheese, too.) Those of us diagnosed with diabetes celebrate in November because it's the birth month of Dr. Frederick Banting, the researcher who discovered insulin in 1921. Without that discovery, my T1D diagnosis at age 11 would have been fatal rather than chronic.

With T1D, the body stops producing insulin altogether. Without insulin, the body can’t process food and has no way of using it for energy causing blood sugars to rise, eventually leading to a coma or death. Those Individuals diagnosed with T1D must get their insulin through multiple daily injections or by wearing an insulin pump. Multiple finger pricks and nutrition counting are required to manage T1D.

I’m able to share my diabetes experiences with people around the world through online communities, my job with JDRF and my life as an endurance athlete with T1D. I advocate for a host of reasons, the most important being to help others. As an active and healthy young adult who’s managed life with T1D for 23 years, I enjoy showing others that diabetes doesn’t have to limit you, but instead, can empower you. Although a diabetes diagnosis can be scary, there are always ways to shine hope on an uncertain disease.

This month is all about celebrating! Celebrating insulin, life, and most importantly, the amazing friends and family who we have supporting us year-round. Throughout the month of November, you’ll see an increase of information about diabetes. As someone who’s lived with T1D since I was a child, I can say it’s often an invisible illness. It’s hard and complicated and requires attention nearly 24/7. You can’t always see diabetes on the surface, but it’s always present. This November, take a moment to learn something new about diabetes. Learn the differences between type 1 (auto-immune) and type 2 diabetes (metabolic). Learn the warning signs of type 1 diabetes (extreme thirst, frequent urination, dizziness, weight loss). Learn about what JDRF is doing to change the future of T1D. But mostly, learn for those with diabetes in your life.   

Like many conditions and diseases, those with both types of Diabetes benefit from staying active and getting moving throughout the day. To learn more about ways to get your group moving, check out DHS Group’s Move module at