Megan Davis was diagnosed with juvenile (type 1) diabetes 18 months ago.
Since then, the 11-year-old has become an educator, fund-raiser and now an advocate to promote awareness of this disease that affects more than 1.3 million Americans.
In December 2004, Megan, who just finished the fifth-grade at Moran Prairie Elementary School, was chosen from 1,000 applicants to be one of 150 delegates to attend the fourth Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C., in June.
The “spokes-kids,” ages 2 to 17, were selected by the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation for an all-expenses-paid trip, based on their stories about living with diabetes.
The Children’s Congress gives children with type 1 diabetes an opportunity to help members of Congress understand what life with diabetes is like.
On the last day of the school year, at the final assembly, a banner with individual messages from the 500 Moran Prairie students was given to Megan to take with her to Washington.
The messages are to encourage members of Congress to continue to fund research and find a cure for diabetes.
Megan met with Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Wash., in Washington and presented her with the banner.
According to Moira McCarthy Stanford, chairman of this year’s Children’s Congress, they have two goals: to keep the funds pumping into laboratories and to convince the nation that embryonic stem cell research needs to be a national, not just a state-supported initiative.
Although it can strike at any age, juvenile diabetes often strikes in childhood, but it lasts a lifetime.
“The hardest thing for me is that I can never take a break from it, so I just try to make the best of it,” said Megan.
Each day, 35 children are diagnosed with this chronic debilitating disease that ultimately affects every organ system. Their pancreas has stopped producing insulin, the hormone that provides the body with energy converted from food.
Megan receives a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump. Receiving insulin is a matter of life and death, but it doesn’t cure diabetes or prevent the possibility of its eventual and devastating effects: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack and stroke.
Megan is very knowledgeable about the disease. She has used her science-fair projects the last two years to educate her schoolmates about the disease.
Her classmates have seen what she goes through every day. They see her check her blood with finger pokes, give herself shots and program her insulin pump. “They are very supportive. Some of my friends count carbohydrates with me,” said Megan, who needs to know the number of carbohydrates in everything she eats.
Megan does her best to be a normal kid. She plays the piano and soccer, but has to be continuously aware of whether her blood glucose is going too low.
She can’t go anywhere without her bag that includes her blood glucose meter, snacks, insulin and needles. Megan said this bag is part of her. She calls it her “left arm” – always with her.
Birthday parties and holidays are especially difficult for her. Her parents Illa and Kevin, and her sister Katie and brother Scott know how to count carbs, read labels and how to treat low blood sugar. “It’s very much a family thing,” said Illa Davis.
But Megan doesn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself. She and her friends sold lemonade and cookies and walked dogs to raise $100 for JDRF. Last September, “Megan’s Miracle Marches” a group of 33 family members, friends and teachers, raised almost $5,000 in the annual “Walk to Cure Diabetes.”
“I don’t want to live with diabetes all my life and I don’t want other kids to either,” said Megan.
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