Oklahoma Teenager With Type 1 Diabetes To Testify Before Congress
YUKON, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma teenager is headed to Washington D.C. this week to have her voice heard. She’s among 165 students with Type 1 diabetes, who will talk with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, to advocate for special diabetes programs.
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research selected 13-year-old Lundyn Cox of Yukon to testify before Congress about the need for research funding dollars. Cox was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 6 years old.
“Since I was diagnosed so young, I don't really remember living without diabetes very much,” Cox admitted.
Which makes living with the disease second nature for her.
“After a while you get so used to it, you don't even notice you're doing it, like sometimes I test and I don't even realize that I’m doing it,” Cox said.
She has all the tools to manage her care, from devices to test her blood sugar to pumps that give her the insulin she needs. Most recently she’s added Archie to the mix, a stray dog the family found on the side of the road. Now, he’s trained to detect when her blood sugar levels are off.
“He definitely notices before me,” she said. “He's very comforting so when I am high or low it's easier to get back in range because I don't get frustrated with it or anything like that, I just do what I need to do to get back in range.”
“He's able to smell the hormone that she emits when she has a blood sugar change,” Brandi Skoropowski, Cox’s mother said.
Cox is one of the youngest trained handlers in the state and Archie never leaves her side.
“Just having that loving, nurturing animal with her all the time, not everyone can understand what she's going through when she's having a high or a low, I certainly can't, and he's always empathetic to her and that seems to really help her,” Skoropowski said.
Cox uses her disease to helps other, participating in trials and raising funds each year in the JDRF Walk.
“After I did my trial, I actually got to see what the money was doing, and it was cool for me to experience that because I got to see what they were doing in the labs and everything,” Cox said. “So, I wanted to raise more money so they could do more of that.”
Now the JDRF has chosen her to represent Oklahoma as a junior delegate to testify before Congress about the need for funding through the Special Diabetes Program (SDP).
“The SDP puts $150 million into research for JDRF Type 1 research,” Skoropowski said. “We want to go and help make sure all of our legislators put priority on the SDP and make sure that they vote for those funds to go into type one research.”
Through those funds, the JDRF helps patients through research and new therapies and treatments.
“She has been able to have her own voice now that she's older and she's able to see what the impact is having unlimited insulin, all the insulin she needs, she doesn't have to ever worry about rationing insulin because of funds,” Skoropowski said.
“I'm fortunate to get to have everything that I need but I know that there's other people out there that don't have everything that they need and I’m just happy to get to help,” Cox said.
The funding for the SDP expires in September but through Cox’s testimony she hopes Oklahoma lawmakers will vote to renew those funds.