As I prepare to send my third child off to college, I can’t help but reflect on when my twin daughters, Hannah and Mary, left for college two years ago. It wasn’t easy seeing two of the four leave at the same time! Our house would be much quieter and of course we would miss them, but that wasn’t even the hardest part. The hardest part was sending off Hannah with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
Many questions went through my mind as the departure day approached: Would her roommate understand her diagnosis? Would her professors know she has type 1 diabetes and would they be as understanding as her teachers throughout high school? How would she get accommodations if they are even given? Will she have enough testing supplies, pump supplies, CGM supplies and insulin? How many cases of juice boxes can I pack and are there enough boxes of granola bars and snacks to last through the semester? What about the dining plan, hours of the dining hall and its location? Will the on campus student health know her and be able to help her out? What if she gets sick and needs to apply the sick day rules? Who will check on her at night in case she goes low while she is asleep? Additionally, I wondered if she would find anyone else with T1D who she could relate to.
Fortunately, after hours of phones calls and planning, Hannah had the supplies that she needed. As far as a support network, there was not anything in place at our daughter’s college when she arrived on campus. However, that all changed in a matter of months when she realized the importance of networking with other T1D college students and learned about this new non-profit organization called the College Diabetes Network (CDN). Through the structured guidance of CDN staff, she eagerly started a chapter of CDN at her school, University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Hannah's twin sister also realized the importance of support for college students with T1D. Mary formed a chapter of CDN on her campus, University of Rochester, in honor of her sister.
I am very grateful that both of my girls became involved with CDN as it has enhanced their college experiences and eased many of my initial concerns about handling T1D in college. CDN provides the guidance and tools that students need to run a successful club that encourages students with T1D to connect and know all of the resources available to them. Furthermore, it is an amazing resource for parents to get the support that they need to feel comfortable with the transition of their role in the care of their son or daughter.
That’s why becoming a parent member of CDN is so important. As a small non-profit organization, CDN relies heavily on donations to operate. Purchasing a CDN parent membership ensures that everything I previously mentioned - all of the information, resources and guidance the CDN team provides – remains free for students. Knowing that my T1D daughter is safe and healthy while she’s at school is something that I could never put a price tag on.
As you see your children growing into young adults who will eventually be heading off to college, remember that CDN is available to support both you and your child, and sign up for a parent membership today!