Overcoming Type 1 Diabetes With the Help of JDRF
GuideWell Source’s Tom Anderson is more than just the chair of this year's Jacksonville JDRF One Walk, he’s a prime example of the organization’s positive impact on those living with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Anderson, who serves as Vice President, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer and Secretary for GuideWell Source, the parent company to the government administrative and claims processing (Medicare fee-for-service) business, was diagnosed with T1D when he was 9 years old. Today, Tom’s diabetes is well-controlled thanks to the advances in treatment made possible by the research supported by JDRF, he said.
T1D is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s body does not produce insulin; a hormone people need to get energy from food. Previously known as juvenile diabetes, T1D is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but can strike at any age and suddenly. Currently, 1.25 million Americans are living with T1D, with an additional 40,000 diagnosed each year. The health care cost associated with T1D in the United States is estimated at $14 billion annually.
Before his diagnosis, Tom recalls constantly feeling sluggish while participating in youth sports and having an unquenchable thirst. He also remembers being hospitalized for a week and told that he had a disease that could lead to him losing a foot, a leg or even his life; and that there was no cure – pretty scary stuff for a 9-year-old.
“When I was diagnosed there was very limited information on T1D and in-home blood glucose testing was not available. It was a time when research on managing the disease was just beginning,” Tom said. Around that same time, two mothers of children with T1D founded JDRF.
With a lot of hard work and support from his family, Tom managed the disease through high school. By the time he entered college, JDRF had grown substantially, acting as advocates for awareness and pushing research for new technologies. Still, living with T1D was a challenge. Tom said during law school and early in his career as a lawyer there were times he would have to stop trials to check his blood sugar due to the rapidly changing blood sugar levels diabetics commonly experience.
All that changed in 1998 when he received his first insulin pump and his life immediately improved from the technology, which, by way of a small device, delivers insulin continuously through a catheter under the skin.
“The gratitude I feel toward JDRF and their commitment to curing T1D is limitless. With their help, T1D has never limited me personally or professionally,” said Tom, who encourages all throughout the state to participate in an upcoming JDRF walk to benefit further research and advancements.
The JDRF North Florida Chapter One Walk is Saturday, April 8, at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville. In addition, JDRF has scheduled various other walks throughout the state.
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