National Diabetes Awareness Month Spotlight – Lillie Garcia

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To celebrate some of the Movers, Shakers and T1D Changemakers in our community, we’ll be highlighting a T1D Champion in our chapter each week to celebrate National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Meet Lillie!

Would you mind sharing your diagnosis story?

I was diagnosed at 8 years old. I was an avid soccer player and pretty much always outside. As time passed, I started to complain about my legs hurting and I was constantly thirsty. Being a very active child, my parents assumed it was because of how much moving around I was doing. Later, my parents took notice of the foods I began eating. I went from chicken nuggets to steak and when asked why, I always answered saying I was just starving. With my newfound appetite you would assume I would at least keep a steady weight, however, I lost 10 lbs in 3 months. After that, I began wetting the bed at night and having to use the restroom constantly no matter where I went. Eventually, my father, who has type 2 diabetes, suggested I be seen by a doctor, noticing some of my symptoms were similar to his. Being 8 at the time, all I really remember was sitting in a room at children’s mercy while my parents talked to a doctor. I remember asking “So do I have it?” all while not really even knowing what I was asking if I had.

Unfortunately, at the age of 8, my diabetes led me to fall into a sort of depression. I stopped doing soccer, became more reserved, and my inner world began to change a lot. Mentally and emotionally my diabetes has caused me to struggle a lot. But now, at 19 years old, I am finally taking the initiative to get help for the mental toll this diagnosis has taken on me. It has affected every part of my life, but I am now learning how to live for myself again, not allowing type 1 to stop me from being who I really am.

 

Thanks for sharing that Lillie. It’s great to always share the common signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes for those that might not be aware. We’re so happy to hear that you’re not letting T1D stop you! You were even recently crowned the National American Miss Teen Missouri Cover Girl. How was that experience and balancing T1D? 

I will say doing pageantry and having T1D can be challenging at times. If my blood sugar is running low, it can definitely impact my performance because of a foggy brain. If it’s higher, the worry of having to use the restroom during an event can be stressful. And it is certainly hard to find times to eat when you’re running from event to event. However, being a T1D gives me great purpose in pageantry because I am able to share my experience and help others understand life with hidden disabilities and how to help those around them.

Could you share a little more about how you’ll be using your platform to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes?

I have started a book club called Lillie’s Book Club. My focus is to share books that highlight diversity and learning new perspectives. I have already shared one book with a T1D main character. However, I will certainly be digging for more to add to the reading list. As well as sharing information on what it means to be a T1D and how to look out for your T1D friends and family on my Missouri Covergirl page on Instagram. It’s @thenammoteencovergirl. The Instagram for my book club is @Lillies.book.club and you can also Join the Lillie’s Book Club Facebook page.

 

That’s incredible. Building a supportive community is so important, especially with mental health. If there was one thing you wish others knew about life with T1D, what would it be?

I wish that people knew that just because it is a hidden illness/disability, it does not make it any less painful. Physically and mentally. At least in my experience. It can be repetitive and draining. But it also does not make us any less strong. It is real and it does affect our daily activities. But patience from yourself and others is the key.

 

As a T1D Champion, how are you planning to celebrate National Diabetes Awareness Month?

One thing that impacted me when I was hospitalized after my diagnosis was the cheerful baskets provided by the community. They had things to help keep your mind relaxed like activity books and toys. They also had stuffed animals to help with comfort, as well as a medical alert bracelet. Because of this, I like to do drives in my community to collect supplies and money to provide Happy Kits to children at Children’s Mercy Hospital. This is certainly one of the ways I will be celebrating.

Thank you Lillie for sharing your story and for being a Mover, Shaker and T1D Changemaker in our community. We look forward to celebrating more T1D Champions throughout the month.