Two Types of Diabetes One Hope

When Allie Sullivan was 8, she felt excessively tired and was making many more trips to the bathroom than usual. Her doctors did blood tests and found out she had type 2 diabetes — but that wasn’t all. 

Allie’s bloodwork also revealed biomarkers indicating that she would almost certainly also develop type 1 diabetes (T1D). Sure enough, she was also diagnosed with the early onset of T1D at age eight.

“I remember the day she was diagnosed, and how the doctors sent us home with insulin and shots — we wanted to beg the nurse to come with us,” says Allie’s mom, Alicia Sullivan.

When the Sullivans learned about Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), they quickly became avid supporters and donors, eager to fuel BRI’s quest to improve treatment for T1D and other autoimmune diseases.

“BRI’s research gives us hope,” Alicia says, “and we really like how they look at all the autoimmune diseases together and use research from one to help them fight the others.”

Allie, now 12, doesn’t let her two forms of diabetes run her life. She recently started sixth grade and spends much of her free time swimming, dancing and playing tennis. Her philosophy is to always be prepared.

“Managing both conditions is a little different every day,” Alicia says. “Allie follows a low carb diet to help manage the type 2. But with her type 1, that can cause her blood sugar to get very low. We go everywhere with a bag of tools.”

Allie also recently joined her school’s speech team. Her first assignment is to create an expository speech that teaches her audience about something she knows a lot about.

“I chose diabetes,” Allie says. “I want to teach people about what it’s like to live with diabetes and the difference between type 1 and type 2. I think it will be helpful for more people to know about the diseases and about research.”

Allie is using resources from organizations like BRI and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to inform her speech, and she’s excited about all the ways researchers are fighting diabetes worldwide.

“Research gives me hope that one day, there will be treatments that make living with diabetes a little easier,” Allie says. “Or that maybe, eventually, there will be a cure.”

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