Illinois girl tackles diabetes - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Illinois girl tackles diabetes

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HARRISBURG -- November 14 marks World Diabetes Day, a day created to raise awareness about diabetes.

The World Health Organization reports, more than 400-million people worldwide live with diabetes. Five percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes, which is where the body does not produce insulin, according to The American Diabetes Association.

At five years old, Maren Russell from Harrisburg, was diagnosed with a severe form of type 1 diabetes.

Maren said she remembers bits and pieces of that part of her childhood, like being taken to the hospital and passing out in the car.

Her parents remember a bit more. They said she gave herself shots when she was 5 years old and poked her finger by herself to check her levels.

Emotions ran high as the family reflected on what it was like for Maren to be so young with diabetes.

"It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Maren's mother Susan Russell said.

The family told News 3 before tubeless insulin pumps, Maren would take between 5 to 7 shots a day. Thanks to technology, she now has a glucose monitor that keeps her parents updated through an app. 

But, it's not all rainbows and butterflies. 

Maren said her phone alert went off in class before, causing her to feel embarrassed. Then something changed when she attended Camp Beta, a camp designed for children living with diabetes. 

"Everyone was like me, it wasn't embarrassing if our phones went off," Maren said. 

Maren said she felt like she fit in with the rest of the group and that put a big smile on her mom and dad's faces.

"You're really not alone in this, it's just day by day, you know hour by hour," Maren's father Jonathan Russell said.

Today, Maren is a brave 12-year-old with dreams of becoming an animal rescuer, and she has this message for anyone who feels like they don't belong:

"There's always someone like you, there's always someone there for you, don't ever give up on what you want to do," Maren said. 

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