Helpless to hopeful: Seeking a cure for Type 1 diabetesSince she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2008, Camille DeSutter has had roughly 5,000 "finger pokes" and about 3,000 insulin injections.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2008, Camille DeSutter has had roughly 5,000 "finger pokes" and about 3,000 insulin injections.
But the 5-year-old Red Wing girl, her parents and her siblings have made the necessary adjustments to their lives. Camille is back running and swimming, biking and hiking, riding horses and imagining all the things she might be when she grows up — a horseback rider, a farmer, a guide leading survivor groups into the wilderness.
All of those things are open to her, though there is no cure for the disease.
Camille may be testing her blood sugar with finger pokes and giving herself insulin injections several times every day for the rest of her life, although there is hope for improved treatment options — maybe even a cure.
Her mother, Ann Chalmers DeSutter, has gone from helplessness to hopefulness in the year and a half since Camille was diagnosed with the disease, known as juvenile diabetes because it frequently strikes young children and adolescents.
As a reflection of her faith that a cure is not just possible, but likely, DeSutter has thrown herself wholeheartedly into a major fundraising effort for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since 1970, the foundation has awarded more than $1.3 billion to research, including over $156 million last year.
On Aug. 29, DeSutter will participate in a 105-mile bicycle Ride for a Cure in Killington, Vt. She and her husband, Bob, with help from the other members of Team Camille — 11-year-old Adelle and 9-year-old Mac — have raised pledges, held a garage sale and the kids put on a bake sale.
Their total has surpassed $8,000, and they're hoping to hit $10,000.
DeSutter will join about two dozen others supporters from Minnesota and 400 to 500 bicyclists from all over the country in the Vermont Ride for a Cure, one of five held nationwide.
"It's so wonderful to be with people who understand how I feel," she said.
When Camille was diagnosed, she explained, "I felt so powerless against the disease." Biking became good therapy, and she realized it also set a good example of healthy activity for the whole family.
DeSutter also wants to help educate people about Type 1 diabetes, which can strike suddenly and be devastating to families.
Camille was two weeks short of her fourth birthday when she was diagnosed.
She had an increased thirst and went to the bathroom a lot, DeSutter said, plus she had lost weight.
"I wrote it off to a growth spurt" and the fact that they had just moved back to Red Wing, she said. But when Camille started wetting the bed, DeSutter agreed with her mother, Karen Chalmers, that it was time to take the little girl to the hospital.
"Five minutes into the appointment" with Dr. Peggy Decker at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, DeSutter said, a blood test was all it took for a diagnosis.
The family drove straight to Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities and spent the next three days and nights there, learning about the lifestyle changes that would be necessary — including the blood sugar checks, the injections, and the effect of diet on Camille's blood sugar level.
"It's extremely intense," DeSutter said. Camille must be checked seven times a day and at night. She also had several injections a day until three months ago, when she started using an insulin pump that delivers the insulin.
Camille's sister and brother help with the math — counting carbs — and support their little sister in other ways. They've given up things like pancakes with syrup, and sweets for dessert, and instead snack on nuts, cheese and fruit. And they recognize the signs that Camille may be having a blood sugar problem.
More life changes are in store for Camille. She attended her first Diabetes Camp in Hudson, Wis., and she'll start all-day kindergarten at Sunnyside School in September.
"There's a lot of hope that there could be a cure in 10 to 15 years," DeSutter said. "I totally believe in it. It's not just a wish and a prayer.
"We need to focus on keeping Camille healthy until that time comes."
Anyone who would like to support the Ride for a Cure can send a check made out to JDRF to DeSutter at 916 W. Sixth St., Red Wing MN 55066.