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PEP Talk

Sharing Diabetes - The Yedo Family's Story

When your child is diagnosed with diabetes, a thousand thoughts start pulsing through your mind…but there’s no family history…have we done something to cause this…if only I could change places with my child.

Jennifer Yedo, a South Florida mother of three girls, Stephanie, Madeline and Charlotte, had all these thoughts and more when her eldest daughter, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 4. And though she couldn’t change places with Stephanie and couldn’t take away the pain and the burden of this disease, she has recently gained a newfound respect for all that her daughter has had to endure over the last 13 years.

Diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year, Jen is now insulin dependent herself.

“I had the classic symptoms, the thirst, the hunger – everything I remember my daughter going through,” Jen said. “I checked my blood sugar, and it was 400. The doctor put me on insulin right away, and I was also diagnosed with celiac disease.”

Jen’s double diagnosis was a low blow for a family that had already been dealt a difficult hand. Jen also has chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

“It’s been one thing after the other for many years,” she said.

Yet, the Yedo family has found a “new normal” that works for them.

“Our whole family is gluten free. My husband, Jim, was adamant about all of us doing the same thing and adapting to what needs to be done. He is my rock, and actually I feel really fortunate,” stated Jen, who is one of the DRI Foundations’ PEP Squad leaders (Parents Empowering Parents).

But more than anything else, I felt guilty. I was getting upset that I have diabetes – that I have to check my blood sugar and take insulin. There are days when I just don’t want to do it. But, my child has been doing this since she was 4 years old! Who am I to feel upset?

“When I had my first low, Stephanie was right next to me talking me through it,” recalled Jen, referring to the role reversal as surreal.

“My mom got really nervous because it was her first really low blood sugar,” said Stephanie, who is 17 and a junior in high school. “She was overdosing on sugar, and I told her, ‘You just have to calm down and everything will be fine. I’ve felt like that too.’”

Jen explained how her perspective has changed.

“The first words out of my mouth were always, ‘What were your numbers today at school?’ It drives me crazy now that Jim asks that of me! So, it’s no longer the first thing we talk about, and I’m not as hard on her as I used to be.

“I can’t imagine doing all of this as a teenager. They are dealing with something that’s well beyond their years. Hopefully, other parents can understand that from me,” Jen stated.

Stephanie, who just made the dance team at school and looks forward to college in another year, said, “Before, we used to have little fights when my blood sugars were out of range, but now that’s better because she understands.”

Stephanie is also proud that her family is so involved with the Diabetes Research Institute. In addition to being part of the PEP Squad, they’ve sponsored and attended multiple fundraising events. “I love helping out because it means we’re even closer to a cure.”


Jennifer and Jim Yedo and their girls, Madeline, Charlotte and Stephanie.

 

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