Margaret Stephens was a typical 12-year-old until she became sick with what everyone thought was a common cold. But, it was anything but a common cold. Stephens recently received a medal for her fight against the disease she has lived with for 50 years.
“I was sick with a cold, and then about three weeks later, I got really sick,” she said. “I went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with Type 1 Diabetes. I was really shocked, to say the least.
Stephens had to take shots from day one and there were no known cases of diabetes in her family.
“What was so bad about the situation is that when I was diagnosed, there were no diet foods, no artificial sweeteners like there are now, and the diet I was on was very restrictive,” Stephens said.
“I was on a strict diet and still am,” she said. “I exercise and watch what I eat. It was tough and I felt different. It wasn't what it is now to be a juvenile diabetic. It's more prevalent now. A new theory about Type 1 is that a virus of some kind destroys cells in the pancreas.”
The medal that she received is from the Harvard University Joslin Diabetic Research Center.
“I'm going to Boston, Mass., in June to get tested to see why I have lived with diabetes for 50 years without complications and why some people don't live as long,” she said. “When I married my husband, we didn't know how long of a life expectancy I had because of my diabetes, but he married me anyway. We've been happy for a long time.
“My advice to diabetics is to stay positive,” Margaret said. “Stay positive, keep with a healthy diet, test as often as needed, and exercise. The positive attitude is a big part of living with diabetes. You've got the disease and you can't get rid of it, so why dwell on it. Pick yourself up and move on.”