J Di­a­betes Cham­pi­ons

5 in­spir­ing ad­vo­cates

Diabetic Living (USA) - - Front Page -

DI­A­BETES CHAM­PI­ONS

Mila Fer­rer

Project Man­ager, Be­yond Type 1, Or­lando, Flor­ida

WRIT­ING DEB­BIE KOENIG PHOTO SONYA REV­ELL

aime Fer­rer, the youngest of Mila Fer­rer’s three sons, was di­ag­nosed with type 1 di­a­betes when he was only 3 years old. “Now that I know what type 1 di­a­betes looks like, my son clearly had all the symp­toms,” she says. “But I never thought a 3-year-old could de­velop type 1 di­a­betes.”

The whole fam­ily dove into learn­ing about how to man­age the dis­ease, while main­tain­ing as much of a nor­mal child­hood as pos­si­ble for all the boys. Now 15, Jaime is a tal­ented base­ball player. “We have very high ex­pec­ta­tions of him,” Fer­rer says. “Type 1 di­a­betes gives him a lot of dis­ci­pline. He knows what his goals are and he knows that he’s go­ing to work very, very hard.”

In 2011, four years af­ter Jaime’s di­ag­no­sis, Fer­rer started a blog about her ex­pe­ri­ences, writ­ing in her na­tive Span­ish. “Why in Span­ish? Be­cause when I started look­ing for other par­ents, other peo­ple who had been liv­ing with type 1 who could speak my lan­guage, I could not find any­one,” she says. The blog, called

Jaime, Mi Dulce Guer­rero (Jaime, My Sweet War­rior), of­fers a forth­right take on par­ent­ing a child with type 1. “Our His­panic com­mu­nity, it’s very pri­vate,” she says. “I al­ways share,

‘Oh, my God, we for­got to bo­lus and he’s in the 300s,’ or ‘His in­sulin pump stopped work­ing,’ be­cause you have to teach peo­ple how to deal with ev­ery sit­u­a­tion.”

Blog­ging led her to full-time ad­vo­cacy work in 2013, when she joined the Di­a­betes Hands Foun­da­tion as the com­mu­nity man­ager for EsTuDi­a­betes, the Span­ish-lan­guage arm. In 2017 both were ab­sorbed by Be­yond Type 1, where she now works as a project man­ager.

Fer­rer urges par­ents of type 1 chil­dren to form sup­port groups within their own com­mu­ni­ties. “If I call my best friend and talk to her about Jaime’s type 1 di­a­betes, she might say, ‘I’m so sorry you’re go­ing through that,’ but she’s not go­ing to un­der­stand,” Fer­rer says. “But if I talk to a mom in my group, she might say, ‘I’ve been through that, ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be fine, just re­mem­ber to do A, B, and C.’”

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