Chilliwack friends team up for diabetes cure

Molly and Shaelyn will take part in the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes in Abbotsford this Sunday

Shaelyn Lightle

Shaelyn Lightle

Molly Rose and Shaelyn Lightle have a lot in common.

The Chilliwack-raised girls both love sports and are always on the go. They share a love of life that includes laughing and staying healthy. They also both do very well at school, although Molly is a kinesiology student at UFV, and Shaelyn is about to finish Grade 3.

And each one thinks the other is pretty amazing.

But the tie that really binds them is a medical one. Both girls are Type 1 diabetics, dependent on insulin to live. And both girls will be walking in this weekend’s TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes in Abbotsford.

It’s a cause that Molly’s family took up after she was diagnosed at age 14. It was exactly this time of year, Molly explains, when she began to notice a few changes.

“I was just really thirsty all the time,” she says, and was overly tired. They went to the family doctor, who said her blood sugars were high. They were told they should go to Children’s Hospital soon, but that a pre-planned trip to Tofino could take place first.

They had no idea what life with Type 1 diabetes would be like, and didn’t realize the severity of the situation until the doctors at Children’s Hospital called and urged them to come in. Once they arrived, they were given days of instruction on how to keep Molly alive, including test strips, insulin injections, carb counting and more.

“It takes a long to get to used to it,” Molly says. And while pumps have made administering the hormone insulin into their systems a little easier for Molly and Shaelyn, the new technology is not a cure. Insulin is just one of the hormones created by your pancreas, and it helps regulate sugar and salt in our bodies. But with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops functioning.

There have been a few giant leaps towards treating diabetes, by changing the methods of testing blood sugars and injecting insulin. But they are imperfect systems.

“We were up at 2:30 a.m. the other night,” says Shaelyn’s mom, Cheryl.

Molly’s mom, Anne Russell, gives a nod of solidarity.

There are numerous reasons a child with diabetes could have a nighttime emergency. But this particular one was a cannula situation. The cannula is very thin and has to sit just under the skin. It’s connected to a thin tube that leads to the pump, which sits in a pouch around Shaelyn’s waist. The cannula had fallen out of Shaelyn’s arm in the middle of the night and needed to be re-inserted. Because Shaelyn is so tiny, there are few options. The site has to be changed every three days, and they move it from the backs of her arms to the sides of her thighs in a clockwise manner, every three days. Little spots on her arms mark the last few weeks of use.

Those are the hard days, Cheryl says.

But it’s better than the daily injections. But then there are the finger pokes. Shaelyn has to test every few hours, up to nine pokes a day.

And these are the kind of strides that both mothers, and their daughters, are eager to see more of. The TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes raises funds for the JDRF, which aims to cure diabetes, treat people and to prevent Type 1 from occurring in those most susceptible.

In their five years supporting the walk, the Russell-Rose family has raised more than $12,425. This year, they’ve joined forces with the Lightle family. They are getting close to their goal of $2,000 for this year’s walk, but are in the final days of fundraising and the push is on.

Getting involved means finding a better tomorrow for their daughters.

“No one else cares as much about your children’s disease as much as the families of kids with the same disease,” Anne says. “This is a very family-driven event.”

The 2015 TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes takes place Sunday, June 14 at Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. and the 5K walk begins at 2 p.m.

To donate to Team Molly, click here.

To donate to Team Shaelyn, click here.