Hometown: Westfield, Massachusetts
Profession: Student, University of Connecticut
Disease: Type 1 Diabetes
Bio: Virginia, a young woman who was once terrified of needles (and even tried to throw a chair at her doctor during a particularly intense visit!), has definitely overcome her fear. Although she still asks friends and family to help her out with her shots every now and then, Virginia has found a way to conquer her anxiety and live her life to the fullest. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 15 during her sophomore year of high school. As she noted, "Basically, I knew something was wrong before I was diagnosed because I lost more than 25 pounds within a few months (I went from 115 to 87), I was constantly thirsty (I had to use the bathroom about 3 times during each 45 minute class period), and I was hungry all of the time. I never realized at the time how terrible I must have looked. My mom actually thought I was bulimic [at one point]."
"One morning I woke up and knew something was wrong, so I called my mom and she drove me straight to the ER; by this point I was so weak and exhausted that I didn't refuse. When we got there they told me that my blood sugar was well over 600 mg/dl (the normal range is about 100). After that, I just remember being stabbed with needles all day long-it was the most miserable day of my life." Following her visit to the hospital, Virginia learned the do's and don'ts of her disease, and even confessed to once choosing not to take her insulin dosages in order to quickly lose weight for prom, something that many young women with diabetes have done and something that she firmly asserted that she will never do again. But all in all, six years after her initial diagnosis, Virginia is thankful for her challenge because it helped her overcome her fear of needles, but it has also helped her realize that she wants to become a registered dietitian and specialize in endocrinology in order to help and be a resource for other people that have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, as well."
How It Changed Her: Her illness taught her to always strive to be kind to others. You never know what someone else is dealing with; the person who just cut you off could have really low blood sugar, or could simply be having a terrible day. As she sees it, it's important to always try your hardest to sympathize with others because you just never know what's afflicting them or how your actions could ultimately affect them.
Why She Wanted to Tell Her Story to Marie Claire: "Having Type 1 Diabetes has made me realize that a lot of people don't know much about it. When people hear the word "diabetes" they are quick to judge you and be assume, 'You have that because you eat too much sugar and too many bad foods.' But out of the people who have diabetes, only 10 percent of people have Type 1 and the other 90 percent of people have Type 2, which does come from not exercising and eating poorly. Sometimes it makes me really angry when people don't know the difference [and say these things anyway]. I'm telling my story to educate people about Type 1 Diabetes so that they are more understanding and not as quick to judge."
Words to Live By: "Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best."—Theodore Isaac Rubin
Twitter Handle: @vfisher14
Her Advice for Someone Who's Going Through a Similar Situation: "I feel like this is really cliché, but...it gets better. Obviously, at first you don't know what the situation will bring to you or how it'll turn out in the end. [But] I feel like everything happens for a reason, and we need to wait it out to see what the positive outcome is going to be for the situation."