Teagan – a Passionate Young Advocate Headed to Washington D.C. for a Big Adventure

Teagan Hodges has been living with type 1 diabetes for 6 years after being diagnosed at 11. She has been an active advocate for the Clinical Research Network (CRN) and is herself currently taking part in the Closed Loop Trial, funded under the CRN. Along with her mother, Sonia, Teagan has made huge efforts for advocacy and peer support, even helping others at their MP meetings. Both Teagan & her mum have known and understood that asking Members of Parliament is the only way that clinical trials could be funded and continued, due to the high costs involved.  Teagan’s own personal growth through the advocacy program has been heart-warming to watch. This year, she has been selected to represent Australia at Children’s Congress in Washington D.C. This is Teagan’s very first big trip overseas and we are sure she will make quite the impact on Capitol Hill! Let’s find out how Teagan got here, in her own words:

It was the 26th of October 2012, I was 11 years old at the time and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was visiting my Nan and suddenly got really bad chest pains and couldn’t breathe. My Nan rushed me to hospital, they took me straight in and began checking my heart. In the meantime, my Mum arrived at the hospital. My Dad had surgery that very same day.

When the doctor told my Mum that I was a very sick young girl, I remember not really understanding what that meant. I was carried by Mum to the resus bay where the doctors hooked me up to machines and started my insulin infusion, we had to wait to find out what my BGL was as it was too high for the glucometer to read. The lab results showed that it was 44. Once I was stabilised enough to transfer I was taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital. I spent 5 days in there getting better and then learning to live with Type 1 Diabetes.

On the Sunday, while Mum was looking out my hospital window she saw lots of people in blue t-shirts walking around Paramatta Park, a nurse that was helping to look after me told us that it was the JDRF One Walk and they are raising awareness and funds for research into T1D. Knowing there were people who were doing that made my Mum and Dad feel not so alone. While I was in hospital I learnt how to do my injections, test my blood sugar and learnt lots of new stuff about food. I really loved getting Rufus, he quickly became my new favourite.

Within a few months of being diagnosed, I was asked if I would participate in a medical trial. My educator explained it to me and I decided that if it’d help other people then I wanted to do it. This was the first of the 4 medical research trials I’ve taken part in.

Getting my insulin pump was exciting, it gave me back some of my freedom. I could manage playing sport much easier and eat only what I wanted instead of having to eat to match my insulin dose.

JDRF “Kids in the House” event, Parliament House, Canberra on 23rd October 2018. PHOTO: MARK GRAHAM

Despite the burden that Type 1 Diabetes puts on me I’ve never hated it. I get frustrated with it but mostly I just do what I need to do and get on with it. My hope is that one day really soon the scientists and researchers are able to tell me why I got Type 1 Diabetes and how we can prevent more people being diagnosed and keep on improving the technologies that help manage it.

As a JDRF Advocate for my Electorate of Chifley, I have met with my Local Federal MP and I’ve told him how my life changed and what the reality of living with T1D is. I’ve also told him how research is important to me. In the 6 years since my diagnosis I’ve seen lots of changes and with a huge thanks to research. My MP did a parliamentary speech about the importance of research and the need for the CRN 111 to be funded. I wrote the speech for him and I was super excited when he posted it to YouTube. My MP has met with me on several occasions and has been incredibly supportive. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet with other MPs who’ve all taken a real interest in why research for T1D is so important to me.

Attending Kids in The House (KITH) 2018 was a real highlight. I met some new friends who I hope will be friends for life. At KITH we all got to tell the members of government about living with T1D and ask them to “Promise to Remember Me” when it comes to funding the CRN 111. All this led to the bipartisan support we got! It was a crazy long day, but I loved every minute of it even the freezing cold Canberra morning out on the grass.

I was also a guest speaker at the ALP announcement and to say I was excited would be an understatement. It was an honour to be part of such a significant announcement. I have participated in the JDRF One Walk and my Dad is my chief walk buddy.

I’m thrilled to have been chosen to attend Children’s Congress in 2019. I plan on taking my determination with me to help make a change for everyone living with Type 1 Diabetes.

JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress will take place from July 8-10, 2019, in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about it here.

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