If you’ve been involved in public life in Flower Mound and its environs you probably know Kathy Duke. The former Lewisville Independent School District board member served the educational needs of the district for nine years. In addition, Ms. Duke has been active for years in numerous civic and charitable events.
One of the things you’re certain to remember about Kathy is her energy, her drive and her sunny disposition. What you probably don’t know about her is that she, and her 14 year-old son Danny, have a condition known as type 1 diabetes.
Once referred to as juvenile diabetes, type 1 develops most often in young people, but, can also develop in adults. The condition causes your body to stop making insulin, or not enough insulin, because the body’s immune system, which usually protects you from infection by getting rid of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances, has attacked and destroyed the cells that make insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, can affect people at any age, even children. However, type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people. People who are overweight and inactive are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Generally speaking, diabetes is when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the main type of sugar found in your blood and your main source of energy. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also made in your liver and muscles. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy. Your pancreas, located between your stomach and spine, helps with digestion and releases a hormone it makes, called insulin, into your blood. Insulin helps your blood carry glucose to all your body’s cells. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin doesn’t do the job intended, glucose stays in your blood and doesn’t reach the cells. When your blood glucose levels get too high it can cause diabetes.
Recently, Kathy and Danny sat for a video interview to educate people about the disease and to remind us that November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. “You have to take insulin on average 3 or 4 times a day, depending on how your blood sugar runs that day and what you eat” said Danny, a ninth grade student at Marcus High School. “You could take it 6, 7, or even 8 times a day because you take a shot for every time you eat and every high that you might have and at the end of the day for your long-acting insulin. It just varies with each person,” added his mom.
This mother and son team has taken a positive approach to the challenges inherent in this virulent disease. They talk about it openly in order to keep from placing a stigma on those who are similarly afflicted. “I think more people are learning about it,” Kathy said. “My aunt used to hide it. I never saw her take a shot until I was 18 years old. She hid it from people. I taught Danny not to be ashamed.”
As you watch the video below, you’ll notice how well Danny articulates his knowledge of the condition and how mature he is for his age. The American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org is dedicated to finding a cure. Meanwhile, Kathy and Danny, along with millions of others, will continue to fight it together, helping others along the way.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.