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 McCarthyâs 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 familyâs ânew normal.â 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 âMarlboroughâs Sweetest Kids.â
According to McCarthy, Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kidsâ mission is to create connections among local families living with Type 1 diabetes. The families, she added, get involved with âanything that comes up,â whether itâs just a chat on the phone, or getting together in person to go to the library, swim, shop, or for support groups.
âSharing anything diabetes or not, we have common bonds raising or being Type 1,â McCarthy said.
Before founding Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kids, McCarthy was a stay-at-home mother with a child who was beginning private preschool, and a newly diagnosed 3-year-old.
âI had no network within the community, so I made one,â she said. âWe were involved at the library and the display case was the perfect opportunity to reach my peeps.â
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.
âI needed insulin immediately,â she said. âIt truly opened my eyes to what Colleen had experienced most of her life.â
Over the years, more than two dozen Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kidsâ families have touched the McCarthyâs 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.
âBeing a child with diabetes, you deal with things, and as adults there are even more issues: relationships, financial, employment, social, insurance, politics, etc.,â 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 Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kids.
âTogether 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 McCarthy said. âThis group and the annual library display certainly has done this for me and my family âŠ a way to bring us together and help our community understand life with Type 1 diabetes a little better.â
Being on the front lines of coping with Type 1 diabetes, McCarthy knows that kids donât outgrow the disease, they didnât do anything to get it, and itâs a disease for life.
âMore kids are being diagnosed and we would love to share with them, and be of support, but just like Type 1 diabetes, you donât outgrow Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kids,â McCarthy noted. âWe all need lifelong connections with people that can relate to our journey.â
To connect with Marlboroughâs Sweetest Kids, call 508-481-3381 or email [emailÂ protected].