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Feature Article Philomath Teen & Mom Lead Type 1 Diabetes Group

By Ian Rollins

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Cecil Carlisle, a senior at Philomath High School, knows what it is to live with Type 1 diabetes. He’s had it since he was 2, and he has a goal of providing support to other families who live with the disease.

With the help of Debbie Pauls, diabetes education manager at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, and Scott Balzer, clinic operations manager at Samaritan Family Medicine – Corvallis, Cecil and his mom, Julie, have started a support group for families with a child with Type 1 diabetes.

Cecil said his experience began at diagnosis in Dallas, Texas. He was hospitalized in the diabetes wing of a large children’s hospital there, and upon discharge, he said the doctor told his parents that he didn’t ever again want to see Cecil in the hospital because of diabetes.

“We were shocked when the doctor said that,” Cecil said. “What my parents really wanted was a family to come alongside us, support us, let us know everything was going to be okay. So two years ago, my mom decided she wanted to start a support group for Type 1 families to offer them hope, offer them someone they could talk to about this disease.”

“I know the struggles of this disease, the highs and the lows,” he said. “It hasn’t kept me from participating in sports and doing the things I want to do, but I’ve had to sit out football and basketball games because of it.”

Although he has his down days, Cecil said he is managing his condition well. After high school, he plans to attend Linn-Benton Community College to get a welding degree, followed by college so he can make a career out of helping families with Type 1 diabetes.

Pauls worked with Julie on the idea for a support group. Pauls recommended they bring in dietitians and other experts to speak, and provide a snack.

“Debbie was a big help,” Cecil said. “She shared a lot with us about what’s worked for groups she’s led, and what hasn’t worked.”

The U > TID (which stands for “you are greater than Type 1 diabetes”) held its first support group meeting in February at Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic – Corvallis. Five families, including three kids with Type 1 diabetes, attended.

“It went really well,” Cecil said of the first meeting. “We explained our outlook for the group, and the parents asked us a lot of questions about what we’ve been through, how I manage my diabetes, the pros and cons of a continuous glucose monitor, things like that.”

Future plans for the group are to have an endocrinologist speak, as well as a dietitian and other professionals to discuss topics like depression and participating in sports with diabetes.

“I just want families out there to know they’re not alone,” he said. “There are people out there who are going through the exact same thing you’re going through. And there’s hope. This isn’t a death sentence; it’s just another chapter that we as a diabetic community will handle together, step by step.”

Anyone looking for more information about the group can call Julie at 541-207-5167.

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