ROCHESTER HILLS — When a doctor first told Sheri Navetta that her 22-month-old son Andrew had type 1 diabetes, the young mother of twin boys was confused and in shock.
“The doctor said Andrew had to go to Royal Oak Beaumont for three days,” Navetta said. “Separating the twins for three days — I couldn’t imagine it.
“It was pretty scary at first,” she said about the diagnosis. “But once you get into it, it becomes routine and it is not so bad.”
“Getting into it” involves monitoring and managing Andrew’s diabetes and insulin pump, all day every day. “It is so volatile,” Navetta said. “If someone is not in charge of his numbers — if he goes too low, it could be dangerous.”
This summer, Andrew — now 7 and a second-grader at Baldwin Elementary School in Oakland Township — will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent Michigan at the Juvanile Diabetes Research Foundation 2013 Children’s Congress.
Andrew is one of approximately 150 children and teenagers from around the country who have been selected to remind Congress of the critical need to find better treatments and a cure for the disease they live with every day — type 1 diabetes.
According to JDRF officials, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults — approximately 80 people per day — are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the United States. Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is a disorder of the body’s immune system and occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys certain cells in the pancreas.
Actor Mary Tyler Moore, who has had type 1 diabetes for more than 40 years, will lead the Children’s Congress.
“These outstanding children and their families all understand, as I do, that type 1 diabetes tests us every day,” Moore said in a statement. “Children’s Congress gives all of us a voice to urge Congress to increase its support of research, which is essential to reducing the burden of this disease on us and on our country.”
The JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress will be held July 8-10. Joining the children will be six international delegates traveling from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The delegates and their international counterparts will convey a clear message to U.S. government that diabetes is a global problem that requires a global effort.
The Children’s Congress will include congressional visits by delegates and a hearing in which Moore, select delegates, researchers and community leaders will testify about the need for continued funding for type 1 diabetes research.
In addition to attending the Children’s Congress, Andrew Navetta will also be on hand when his grandfather tells his own story of diabetes to the Fund A Cure initiative at the 28th annual JDRF Promise Ball May 3 in Detroit.
The young boy encouraged grandfather Bob Navetta, of Milford, to open up and talk about his diagnosis of type 1 diabetes 35 years ago. Technology has changed the way Bob Navetta manages his health. The days of boiling syringes are long gone. “The pumps were invented in the 1990s,” Bob Navetta said. “It’s gotten easier. You are not doing shots all the time. Now you push a button and it gives you better control, less highs and lows.
“It’s an every day thing,” he said. “You need to be sensitive all the time.”
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