Taking action against diabetes

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By Kirsten Laskey

When Evelyn Mullen’s son, Tyler, 12, was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes in December 2007, she said she was “scared to death.”

The whole experience from her son becoming very sick to being transported by helicopter to a hospital to being admitted into the pediatric ward and the intensive care unit was very traumatic, Mullen said.

But Mullen and her family are now combating that fear with action. The whole Mullen family, Tyler, her husband David and daughter Hannah will be participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk for the Cure as a team, called Tyler’s Quest. The 5k walk will be held Nov. 1 at the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.

“We decided to participate because we started looking at some research they sponsor and while a cure for Type I Diabetes is years away, they also sponsor research looking into very effective treatments,” Mullen said.

Other local families will be participating in the walk and several groups and businesses have contributed to the cause.

For instance, CB Fox donated LeakiSport walking sticks for a raffle. Tickets cost $1 and will be sold through today. Additionally, the Ark Child Development Center held a coin drive with another drive will be held at the YMCA in November.

Also, Evelyn Koski of Smart Set, is a sponsor for Tyler’s Quest.

Mullen said people are welcome to submit pledges and to be a part of their team.

“One thing I know is that this is a very caring and giving community,” she said. “What I think it is important about Juvenile Diabetes is anyone can get it.”

In fact, Mullen said she knows other local children were recently diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and it is reported that 40 people are diagnosed every day in the U.S. with Type I Diabetes.

It is important to be knowledgeable about the disease, or at least know its symptoms, she said, because people can die from diabetes. Type I Diabetes is an auto immune disease, Mullen explained. The immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys insulin producing cells. It is not caused, she said, by eating too much sugar.

Type II Diabetes, she said, can be seen in kids, too, but is more common with adults. This type is related to diet and exercise. Usually what Type II diabetics experience is their body doesn’t produce enough insulin, but is still producing it.

People that have to deal with Type I Diabetes know that every day is challenge, Mullen said. Even taking medications can lead to complications.

However, “just try to do your best to keep living life the way you want to, keep diabetes under control and don’t let it run your life.”

She said Tyler won’t let the disease control him. In fact, after being diagnosed with the diabetes, he insisted on learning how to ski.

To Mullen, what her son was saying was, “I’m not going to let (diabetes) define me. I won’t let it run my life.”