Patient Heroes: Jade
As owners of "Kelsey’s", located in Halton, Simon and Dianne Cheung know about good food and nutrition. But nothing prepared them for the shock of having their youngest child, Jade, diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Canada has the sixth highest incidence in the world of type 1 diabetes in children 14 and under. The cause is unknown – and there is no cure.
Ten-year-old Jade knows her body doesn’t make enough insulin, the hormone that helps food keep us healthy. What no one knew in the days before her diagnosis at age eight was that she was literally starving to death.
"Jade seemed to be stretching taller but as the weeks went by, she went from a children’s size eight to a six," says Dianne. "We put it down to family turmoil. My own mother was with us at the time and was dying of cancer."
By chance, Dianne saw a TV show about diabetes and recognized Jade’s weight loss as a danger sign. Recently her daughter had also been extremely thirsty, unable to eat much and emotionally vulnerable. "When she wet her bed for the first time in seven years, the puzzle pieces fell into place," says Dianne.
The Cheungs hurried to their family doctor who found Jade’s blood sugar to be sky high. He immediately sent her to Trillium Health Centre for emergency care. Jade was hospitalized overnight and introduced the next day to Trillium’s Paediatric Diabetes Clinic in the Colonel Harland Saunders Family Care Centre.
"We felt overwhelmed and frightened," says Dianne. "But the team was amazing! We learned so much, we left feeling confident that Jade could manage her diabetes with our support."
At the end of the following week, Jade’s grandmother passed away. Once again, the Family Care Centre was there for the Cheungs, reaching out with compassion and concern. "The team at Trillium was just marvellous. We owe them so much. They gave us the tools and advice we needed."
Today Jade is a healthy weight, master of her diabetic pump, an A student and Rep goalie for her soccer team. "She’s tough," says proud Dad, Simon. "With two brothers she has to be, but her diabetes makes her even more determined than ever to excel."
The Cheungs have a new outlook too. If a restaurant does not show the menu’s nutritional information online, they eat elsewhere. These "insiders" are the best advocates a kid could ever have.