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eliana jacobs (the writer)
eliana jacobs (the writer)
Photo by Eliana Jacobs
Wellness > Health

How My Diabetes Diagnosis Opened Up A Career Path For Me

The month of November brings many holidays, including Thanksgiving, but did you know that November is also Diabetes Awareness Month? Additionally, World Diabetes Day is Nov. 14 each year.  Diabetes Awareness Month’s purpose is to bring communities across the globe to bring attention to approximately 37 million people who possess the disease — one of them being myself.

Nine years ago, on Feb. 13, 2014, my life changed forever. I remember seeing the number “606” on a blood glucose monitor, trying to read and understand the fine lines of my mom’s body language while determining what news my doctor would deliver. I vividly remember my doctor asking my mom, “Why so stoic?” while I was crying in confusion.

After numerous blood tests, on Valentine’s Day, I was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Navigating my diagnosis was a challenge since a year prior, my youngest brother was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, another autoimmune disease affecting the endocrine system. Additionally, with no one in my intermediate family having diabetes, I had little health literacy on how to manage my chronic condition. Despite taking a few months to balance my blood sugar and diet, I taught myself how to carb count, inject myself with insulin, and understand nutritional labels. Because of my youngest brother and my diagnosis, I was propelled to pursue a career in pediatric endocrinology — to advocate for other underrepresented and underserved children who have diabetes.

Growing up with type 1 diabetes was not easy, as no one else in my immediate family had had it before me. Another obstacle was not knowing other people who had diabetes. Learning how to manage my diagnosis while navigating my teenage years was an uphill battle, but with the aid of my family, friends, and primary care team I was able to have healthy A1c levels while having an interactive high school experience. Once I found my footing regarding my diagnosis, I decided to volunteer at local hospitals to teach diabetes management to other young children with the autoimmune disease.

eliana jacobs (the writer) presenting diabetes research
Photo by Eliana Jacobs

As the years go by, my diabetes diagnosis continues to shape me into the woman I hope to become — a lifelong leader in medicine. During my undergraduate career, inspired by my diabetes journey, I decided to conduct an undergraduate thesis on Black/African Americans who have any form of diabetes. Specifically, I explored Black/African Americans who have diabetes from a social epigenetics perspective — how social adversity can lead to later negative health outcomes. While conducting my thesis, I was able to bring awareness to diabetes, from its complications to preventative healthcare strategies across the U.S. through conferences such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Scientists (ABRCMS)

Currently, I am promoting global diabetes awareness as a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan. I work alongside the Taiwanese Association of Diabetes Educators, where I aid in promoting diabetes awareness through events such as World Diabetes Day in Taiwan by exchanging bilingual infographics with the local community. With Taiwan having one of the world’s highest prevalence rates of diabetes, working alongside Taiwanese medical professionals in local health educational projects ultimately aids in alleviating diabetic complications and helps improve patients’ quality of life.  

Ultimately, diabetes may be a silent killer, but I will not die in silence and neither should anyone else with the chronic condition. Throughout all nine years of my diagnosis, I continue to see each day, rain or shine, as an opportunity to shed light and take action in promoting diabetes initiatives. Although Diabetes Awareness Month is coming to a close, I urge you to donate, support, and provide resources to anyone you know who has diabetes. 

Eliana Jacobs is a National Contributing Writer for Her Campus. Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Eliana writes articles about lifestyle, Her 20s, and career-related goals/activities. Before becoming a national writer, Eliana wrote under the UCF Her Campus Chapter,where she wrote about health and wellness. Additionally, she has a passion for social justice, advocacy, and race-related news. Beyond Her Campus, Eliana also writes flash fiction and poetry for the nation’s largest student-run organization, Strike Magazine. Some of her most recent publications include Life In Plastic: It’s “Fantastic”. Eliana also was awarded multiple honorable mentions for her writing during her undergraduate career in her school’s Tutors’ Choice Flash Fiction Contest. Lastly, she recently graduated from the University of Central Florida, earning a dual degree in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies on a Pre-Medical Track. Ultimately, Eliana aspires to pursue an MD/MPH to specialize in Pediatric Endocrinology while intersecting her passion for public health through medical research, poetry, and journalism. In her free time, Eliana enjoys shopping, working out, and traveling. Lastly, Eliana loves exploring local cuisines and documenting restaurants she tried (Orlando and beyond) on her food Instagram.