Jon Jordan, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- National Diabetes awareness month is helping to shed light on the disease now being called an epidemic. One of the millions of Americans living with the disease is 6-year-old Mya Armentor. Mya was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year and half ago.
"Just all the information, and 'oh my gosh, that is my daughter, this is my baby, this is all going to happen to her.'" Mya's mother, Nicole, said.
Nicole admitted while the diagnosis was a surprise, she said maternal instincts told her something was wrong and she suspected her daughter could have diabetes. The day Mya was diagnosed her blood sugar level came back with a level of 569, which is well above the 110 to 170 considered normal for Mya's age.
Living with Type 1 diabetes is a constant struggle for Mya. The 6-year-old has to check her blood sugar level as much as eight times a day by pricking the tips of her fingers. In addition to the finger pricking, Mya also has an insulin pump attached to her.
"She's got this pump on her and she's like 'well, it's OK,' and I guess she's a child and they get adjusted to things and that's her way of life, but I wish it wasn't," Nicole said.
The pump provides Mya with the necessary amount of insulin to live; it must be changed out every three days. In short, insulin is her lifeline.
"Insulin is their saving grace," said Nicole. "It's not a cure, but that is what is keeping her with us right now."
Ever since Mya's diagnosis her parents have worked hard to make others aware of the disease that now affects about 24 million people in the U.S. and 285 million people worldwide.
Last year Mya's family entered their first ever Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk helping to raise several thousand dollars for the organization.
"It's growing more and more," said Nicole. "Kids are getting diagnosed with it and I just think we need to raise as much awareness as possible."
It's the help from those like Mya's family and her supporters that officials with JDRF said make a cure for diabetes a real possibility.
"Everybody hopes for a cure tomorrow, in their lifetime, but if you aren't looking for a cure it's not going to happen," Executive Director of JDRF Sean Simpson said.
Until there is a cure Simpson said JDRF is committed to making living with the disease easier. Simpson said human clinical trials are being conducted to develop an artificial pancreas. If the trials are successful and gets the approval of the FDA Simpson said those with diabetes could be fitted with them within the next five years. The artificial pancreas, Simpson said, would make the frustration of finger pricking a thing of the past.
"We are looking at everything, a cure it's going to be in the form of a shot or the form of a pill," Simpson said.
It's the promise of a cure that has Mya's parents holding out hope a cure is found in their daughters' lifetime.
"I've said through all this, she is my hero, I mean she has taught me more than I think anybody could teach me in my whole lifetime," Nicole said.