Clueless, Terrified, and Grateful: My T1D Story
By Sam Letnik
February of 2008 marks my very first season of hockey, but also marks the month and year that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. At 8 years old, I had no clue what was going on and had no idea what having diabetes would actually mean for me. Only a few months into my inaugural season of organized hockey, I was faced with something so unknown and terrifying and thought it was time to pack it in—my hockey career would surely end less than 2 months in. It was this feeling of fear and uncertainty that makes the day I was diagnosed with T1D one that I am most grateful for today. With the help of the amazing people at my clinic, and their ability to connect me with inspiring role models such as Chris Jarvis, I continued playing the rest of my first season and haven’t stopped playing hockey since. Alongside hockey, I continued playing soccer, picked up a few seasons of tackle football, was a part of every school team, and even started skateboarding. All throughout those years I was challenged, not only by my peers and opponents, but by my diabetes. Yet, it has been the extra challenges brought on by my diabetes that have given me an additional and quite exceptional feeling of accomplishment with each challenge conquered.
I say that I am grateful for the day I was diagnosed with T1D because it is a direct cause of this day that I have been given the opportunity to meet professional athletes, go on some of the most amazing adventures, learn some of my strongest skills, meet some of my longest and dearest friends, and—ultimately— because T1D has made me challenge myself, forcing me to grow into the person I am proud to be today. And it is this idea of challenging myself that I Challenge Diabetes has instilled in me with the many programs I was lucky enough to take part in as a young adult.
ICD, having played such an important part in my growth as a young person living with T1D, is close to my heart and truly feels like the perfect place to pass on this feeling of pride, along with the lessons I’ve learned from 14 years of T1D and the challenges they came with. This organization is something I am beyond proud to be a part of and I consistently get a feeling of pure joy seeing my peers that I grew up with at ICD events come together now to put on similar events for the next generation of folks challenging their own diabetes.
Sam joined our Youth Council as VP of Leadership Development before taking on the role of Project Coordinator, helping to shape and grow our community programs.