North Huntingdon girl hopes to help other diabetes patients through fundraisers
In the five months since Hannah Schade of North Huntingdon found out that she has diabetes, she and her family have learned how to cope with the incurable condition.
But the Sheridan Terrace fourth-grader isn't satisfied with simply making sure she wards off the effects of the disease.
She wants to raise money so researchers can find a cure. So she helped organize a fundraiser this weekend for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF.
“I don't want any other kids or their families to have to go through what I do,” said Hannah, 10. “I want them to know that they'll be OK and that there will eventually be a cure.”
Hannah first learned she had diabetes in early December when she complained about discomfort while urinating, said her mother, Shannon Schade.
“I thought she might have a little urinary-tract infection, so we brought her to the urgent-care center in Monroeville, where they took a urine sample and gave her antibiotics,” Schade said. “But then they told us that we needed to take her to Children's Hospital immediately because her blood sugar was so high that it couldn't be read properly by the monitors they were using.”
Hannah was admitted to the Lawrenceville hospital, where she spent a week undergoing tests that revealed she suffered from Type I diabetes.
“Her blood-sugar level was 692,” her mother said. “A normal reading would be between 90 and 120.”
Type I diabetes is an immune-system disorder that makes it difficult for the body to produce insulin, which means the body cannot properly convert the sugar in food into nutrients for cells. A buildup of sugar in the blood stream eventually can cause severe organ damage and death, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“Going from thinking I had a child with a simple urinary infection to learning that she had a chronic disease was a shock,” Schade said. “Diabetes doesn't run in either my husband Chuck's or my family. I was terrified. It's been a life-changing experience for us.”
Since being diagnosed, Hannah has learned to test her blood sugar regularly and administer up to seven insulin shots a day in her thighs or stomach.
Hannah also has become keenly aware of the dangers of eating foods that can elevate her blood sugar.
“I love grapes and oranges, but I have to be really careful how much I eat because of the sugar,” she said.
Hannah said she is “not a big fan of candy,” so steering clear of treats hasn't been too difficult.
Hannah's desire to help others with diabetes began while she was in the hospital, her mother said.
“She loves to read, so they let her go down to the hospital's library,” Schade said. “She asked them where all the books came from, and they told her they were all donated. So after she got home, she started collecting books, and we donated several boxes of them to the hospital.”
In addition to the fundraiser, Hannah said, she is “really excited” about participating with the Hannah's Hope Team during the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, Westmoreland in September at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Greensburg.
Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626 or at firstname.lastname@example.org