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Father, daughter hope diabetes cure isn't far in the future

When asked what's the worst part of having Type 1 diabetes, Emma Wical answers, "The shots. I can say the shots because I never imagined taking shots every day."

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Eleven-year-old Emma Wical is never too far from her diabetes bag.

The routine began four years ago. When asked what’s the worst part of having Type 1 diabetes, Emma answers, “The shots. I can say the shots because I never imagined taking shots every day.”

She’s referring to her shots of insulin and regular blood-sugar checks, which require pricking her fingers with a lancet.

Her father, Gabe Wical, understands exactly what it's like.

“I'm also a Type 1, and I was diagnosed in March - March 11, 1984,” he said.

Type 1 diabetes means the pancreas can't produce the insulin needed to break down carbohydrates in the blood. Emma's dad knew she could inherit the condition.

“Any time there were any symptoms as thirst or always having to go to the bathroom, I was always kind of watching that,” Gabe Wical said.

He says 30 years of advances in disease management have made it easier on Emma's generation.

“It took me over two minutes to take a blood test,” he said. “Now it's less than five seconds, so it's a lot easier to check your blood on a regular basis.”

Many Type 1 diabetics now use an insulin pump instead of doing self-injections. Researchers are also testing an artificial pancreas that regularly monitors blood sugar and adjusts insulin doses accordingly.

In the future, Emma could be just like her younger brother, who doesn’t have diabetes.

“(I could) just get up from the table and leave, but not it's not the case,” she said. “I have to whip out the calculator and look on the labels, count up all the carbs.”

Gabe Wical said, “It's pretty amazing to believe that, at some point, we're not going to have to constantly think about it, which is really the biggest challenge with diabetes, is that it's always there.

The Wicals will keep managing their condition until researchers finally find a cure.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is holding its fundraising walk Saturday in Raleigh. Visit the organization's website for more information.


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