Leigh, 16, and Lauren, 11, Massachusetts
Photo: Anne D'Angelo
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Leigh, age 16, says:
October 1997. I was 10 years old. We visited the doctor's office for our annual checkup and I was terrified. "It'll be fine, Leigh," said my 6-year-old sister, Lauren. I hated doctors and needles. Little did I know, needles were about to become a part of my family's life forever.
That day the doctor said Lauren has type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. I wondered, What is diabetes? Would she be okay? Was Lauren dying? Mom said she would get better soon and explained it all to me. I didn't know what to think at first, but I did know that if anyone had to get this horrible disease, Lauren would be the one to face it with all the courage in the world.
It's now five and a half years later. Lauren is 11, and I am 16. These past six years have been both demanding and enjoyable.
Sometimes I find myself wishing it was me. I mean, I don't want to give myself shots and pricks all the time, or feel sick, but sometimes I wish I could have the attention Lauren gets. I know it sounds really selfish and wrong of me, and it is, but it's hard to help. A little girl with diabetes needs a lot of attention. I don't blame anyone because I know she needs the attention, but sometimes I wish I was noticed more. My parents put all the effort in the world toward me, but it's hard for them when Lauren needs so much.
Every once in a while, Lauren will cry: "I don't want diabetes, Mom!" "I won't prick my finger!" "I don't want to change my site!"
The first thing that comes to my mind is, "Shut up, Lauren! Stop crying!" Then I realize what she has to deal with. I wouldn't be able to do it without a tear and a scream. She has hardly ever complained these entire six years; she deserves to sometimes.
She is braver than anyone I know. I hope one day that there will be a cure for diabetes, so Lauren can live a happy life, not having to worry about when to prick her finger or what bolus she needs to do on her pump. I want to grow old with Lauren. I want to go to her house when we are adults and have our children play together. I want to be there for her always. I love Lauren.