By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Danielle Cook checks out information about Type 1 diabetes at the Marlborough Public Library. Photo/Lori Berkey
Marlborough â€“ Back in 1999, Sandra McCarthyâ€™s 3-year-old daughter, Colleen, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. No other immediate or distant relatives had a history of the condition, so coping with it became the familyâ€™s â€śnew normal.â€ť McCarthy became inspired to help other families in Marlborough who were also trying to manage life with Type 1, so she established a family support network called â€śMarlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kids.â€ť
According to McCarthy, Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kidsâ€™ mission is to create connections among local families living with Type 1 diabetes. The families, she added, get involved with â€śanything that comes up,â€ť whether itâ€™s just a chat on the phone, or getting together in person to go to the library, swim, shop, or for support groups.
â€śSharing anything diabetes or not, we have common bonds raising or being Type 1,â€ť McCarthy said.
Before founding Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kids, McCarthy was a stay-at-home mother with a child who was beginning private preschool, and a newly diagnosed 3-year-old.
â€śI had no network within the community, so I made one,â€ť she said. â€śWe were involved at the library and the display case was the perfect opportunity to reach my peeps.â€ť
It turns out that 13 years later, when Colleen was 16, McCarthy herself was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and autoimmune disease, which she was told is also sometimes called L.A.D.A. Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.
â€śI needed insulin immediately,â€ť she said. â€śIt truly opened my eyes to what Colleen had experienced most of her life.â€ť
Over the years, more than two dozen Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kidsâ€™ families have touched the McCarthyâ€™s lives directly, and stay in touch with them.
The kids who are involved when the group was established are now adults who are able to address different needs.
â€śBeing a child with diabetes, you deal with things, and as adults there are even more issues: relationships, financial, employment, social, insurance, politics, etc.,â€ť McCarthy said.
Anyone living in Massachusetts, of any age or relationship to someone living with Type 1 diabetes, is welcome to join the connection with Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kids.
â€śTogether we can be less overwhelmed and alone with the challenges of living with Type 1, from the emotional to the physical and financial, and I believe without judgement,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śThis group and the annual library display certainly has done this for me and my family â€¦ a way to bring us together and help our community understand life with Type 1 diabetes a little better.â€ť
Being on the front lines of coping with Type 1 diabetes, McCarthy knows that kids donâ€™t outgrow the disease, they didnâ€™t do anything to get it, and itâ€™s a disease for life.
â€śMore kids are being diagnosed and we would love to share with them, and be of support, but just like Type 1 diabetes, you donâ€™t outgrow Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kids,â€ť McCarthy noted. â€śWe all need lifelong connections with people that can relate to our journey.â€ť
To connect with Marlboroughâ€™s Sweetest Kids, call 508-481-3381 or email [emailÂ protected].