Breakthrough T1D One Walk Spotlight – Sam’s Sweet Fleet

Sam, Majken, Seth and Steve Shirmang

“June 24th is our one year anniversary. One year. Do we celebrate? Do we mourn? What do you do on an anniversary that changed everything?

I had taken him to the pediatrician’s office because something was just not right. I was worried about Sam’s recent regression in potty training. We had it down and now it was worse than ever before. We had completely lost control. I remember sitting in the exam room just staring at the pediatrician as she told me to call my husband, go home immediately and pack a 2-3 day suitcase for the hospital, get there within the hour. I was shocked. I asked if there were any more tests and she said, “No. Sam has diabetes. He may not look like it, but he is very, very sick. You will be spending your weekend learning how to care for him going forward. I am so so sorry.” I looked over at my sweet Sam as he looked out the window at all construction trucks he was excited to see when we left. The only response I could give through my tears was, “But he’s only three…”

On June 24, 2016, Sam was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. At the hospital we learned his own antibodies were attacking his pancreas and there was no way to stop it. Sam’s health would be dependent on insulin injections and we would need to count carbohydrates, learn his carbohydrate to insulin ratios, and check his blood with a finger prick every 2 hours. Too much insulin would be life threatening and too little insulin could also be life-threatening, or lead to blindness and/or loss of limbs. The information was staggering. As a mother, I was swimming in a sea of emotions and I just wanted to curl up with my child and comfort him. He didn’t understand and I barely comprehended myself. I was next to him in his hospital bed as the nurses gave him his first insulin injection. A short time later I felt his body start to sweat and shake and I ran to ask the nurses if this was a normal response to insulin. The urgent look in their eyes was answer enough, and I watched as they treated Sam for his first “low”. I realized at that very moment the seriousness of type 1 diabetes.

That terrifying day alone is why our family walks in the Breakthrough T1D One Walk. We walk because it gives us a fist in the fight for a cure! Breakthrough T1D was the first to say, you are not alone in this battle. The support from Breakthrough T1D was immediate, compassionate, and most of all, inspiring. When the doctors told us in the hospital, “Sam will have this forever. There is no cure.” I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And after becoming more involved with Breakthrough T1D, I still don’t believe it. Sam won’t have diabetes forever. A cure is coming and Breakthrough T1D is leading the way by funding research for a cure and advocating for new therapies to come to market.

For me, the shock of that day has worn off, but the anger and sadness are still there buried under a thick layer of extreme pride and admiration for my 4 year old son. A year later he is happy, healthy, and explains to his friends why he wears a Continuous Glucose Monitor and that he “gets medicine for energy.” Whether we like it or not, managing T1D has become an integral part of our lives. So, on June 24th our family has decided to celebrate. We will celebrate all the fears we have overcome together, the strength we have built as a family, and most of all, we will celebrate Sam and all of his continued bravery and resiliency.”

— Majken, Steve, Sam & Seth

Join Sam’s Sweet Fleet on Saturday, August 19th for the annual Breakthrough T1D One Walk! walk.jdrf.org/omaha