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My Little Sister is My Biggest Inspiration

The person I look up to (not literally, for now) is my younger sister, Aaralyn, who is now 15 years old. In January of 2015, however, Aaralyn was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. I remember my parents calling me and telling me she was being rushed to the hospital; it all felt so surreal. Why was my nine-year-old sister being rushed to the hospital!? 

I remember my dad telling me the doctors thought it might be Type One Diabetes, a chronic condition where the pancreas begins to produce little to no insulin. I felt a wave of emotion rush over me; all I could do was cry. 

My dad came to the house to pick me up and take me to see her. When we arrived my sister was the happy, go-lucky little sister I had always known. The fact that she had a life-changing diagnosis did not seem to phase her one bit; she was as strong as ever. When I got into the room where she was being held until she moved into the Brenner’s Children’s room, she was just sitting in the bed watching TV and eating Teddy Grahams. 

It did not even look like she had cried. How could a kid be so calm? The next day my dad and I went back to the hospital. Three and a half years later I am still processing what happened to her and its continual effect on me.


The six months following Aaralyn's diagnosis were difficult. Before every meal, my sister had to take a shot that delivered her insulin for the food she was eating. Then at night, she would have to take another shot that had long-lasting insulin to keep her blood glucose level mostly stable for 24 hours. My sister never liked shots (and to be honest, who does?), but she never put up a fight. 

Watching someone you love more than life go through that much pain and not even react to it really puts your life in perspective. She just acted like it was her new way of life, which it sadly was. Somehow she was able to make it through four shots a day without batting an eye, shedding a tear, or refusing to take the shot. I have never understood how she was that strong; I can promise you I could never be half as tough as she is.


Her diagnosis has helped me appreciate the little things in life. Most of us can eat whenever we want and do not have to “count the carbs”; that is not the case for Aaralyn. You and I go to sleep and do not consider our blood glucose dropping and the devastating effects it can bring, but she lives that every single night. You and I do not have to make sure our blood sugar is high enough before we go play an active game, but she has to. I have learned to appreciate everything, no matter how minuscule it is.

Even with her new diagnosis, she never stopped being her. She continued to play all the sports she possibly could do at one time. She never used her diagnosis to make people feel bad for her like I probably would have. 

She never makes it noticeable when she takes a shot or tests her blood glucose. She never makes it known that she is going through this every day; she just lives her daily life in her quiet, yet powerful, way.

That is why I look up to my sister, all 5’ 4” of her. She is the strongest, happiest, humblest person I have ever had cross my path. I could never endure what she has and have her light shine brighter than before the diagnosis.  This disease does not define her. I want to be just like her.

Alexa Russell is a junior at NC State University. She is double majoring in Statistics and Economics with a minor in Global Health. She is from Clemmons, NC. She loves goofing off and hanging out with friends.
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