It was April of 1983 and my older sister Carolyn was down the street at her friend’s house. Her friend’s older brother had been recently diagnosed with Diabetes and had just gotten a new blood sugar tester. Just for the heck of it, they decided to test my sister’s blood sugar. It ended up being way too high and Carolyn went to the hospital that night, where she was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Young, selfish, and uninformed about Diabetes back then, I was upset that it meant we weren’t going to go on our family trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am happy to say that I have since realized how much more important my sister is to me than any trip I may be taking…
Carolyn has given me so much. Without planning it, she provided me with a perfect role model for handling disease with courage and without complaining. By sticking a needle into herself twice a day, she showed me how it is possible to live with a condition on a daily basis and get used to the “fun” things that go along with it. I also saw her take action to help Diabetes research, including getting a check from Bret Michaels (signed with his real name) for a Diabetes fundraiser. Without her, I really don’t know how well I would have handled my Crohn’s and cancer diagnoses.
Another thing Carolyn has taught me about living with or without a disease is that laughing is a great way to get through any day. And, we have our inside jokes that make us laugh no matter how far it is from the day they happened. The “a-la peanut butter sandwiches” picture frame is a reminder one of those things. The hand gestures I gave my father in a PEI Tim Horton’s is another. And my hospital roommate asking the nurse for “chocolate ice cream, a couple of ‘em” happened the last time my Crohn’s really acted up.
Which brings me to the life lesson that Carolyn teaches me just about every day: support. No matter what project I am writing or what event is going on at Hope Lodge, I know she will be supporting me somehow. She has bought my books, bought me t-shirts, made things for Hope Lodge, bought things for Hope Lodge, and even wrote to the owner of Life is Good who sent me some shirts. She is not just a role model for older sisters; she is a role model for people in general.
I made this shirt for her birthday today, and it doesn’t even come close to showing how lucky I feel to have her as an older sister. I love you Ca, thanks for everything, and have a wonderful birthday!
If you would like to help stop Diabetes, go to: