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Lauri Delson's Passion Helps Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is something that is near and dear to Lauri Delson’s heart, as two of her three daughters have the disease. Both girls were diagnosed as children, leaving Lauri to navigate their treatment and management plans through their adolescent years. Watching her daughters grow-up with type 1 diabetes was difficult, but what was the most challenging for Lauri was watching them cope with the responsibilities and challenges that come with adulthood without a solid network of like peers and an absence of real life education. Sure, Lauri’s daughters had received clinical education and had a wonderful support network of family and friends, but what seemed to be missing was a connection to others with type 1 diabetes. When her first daughter was diagnosed her doctor postulated that in 10 years there would be a cure, however upon her second daughter’s diagnosis Lauri realized that knowledge (of a cure) wouldn’t help them deal with the challenges of living with the disease today, and everyday. It was at that time that she decided education and support will be their “cure”, and she turned to Hoag.

This realization drove Lauri to make a generous donation to Hoag Hospital Foundation to support the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center and create the Herbert Program for Young Adults (18-30 something) with Type 1 Diabetes. “I tried to look at life through their eyes (her daughters), and really found that what they needed the most was support, motivation and real world advice from others with type 1 diabetes,” said Lauri. “The Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center seemed like the perfect place to start this group.” With that Lauri started the Herbert Program to address the financial, psychological, social and physical changes that challenge not only the young adult, but also their spouses, friends, siblings, entire family and support system. The program she spearheaded features social events, peer interactions, counseling, and education, and incorporates nutrition therapy, and pump and meter training that the Allen Diabetes Center already offers.

Lauri’s goals for this group are to offer empowerment and hope, and to re-build the confidence that many young adults with type 1 diabetes find diminished as they struggle with health, relationships, and independence. What she saw missing from most programs were solutions to address these psychosocial aspects of living with type 1 diabetes. “There are great clinical and research programs out there, but no one was focusing on the real life challenges these young adults face. On top of managing their diabetes, this population is dealing with the financial stress of their disease, time-management of doctor appointments, relationships, feeling isolated and career struggles – often times without an outlet, ” says Lauri.

Studies have shown those with diabetes have an increases risk of depression. The stress associated with having type 1 diabetes, along with all the other challenges young adults face, can play a major part in the development of depression. It’s been reported that girls with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to their non-diabetic peers. Lauri created the Herbert Program with these factors in mind and wanted to give this group a place to feel normal with peers, a group with which they can connect and share real life experiences. It was equally important to her that the program offers psychological support to combat the high rate of depression and eating disorders.

Participants of the program are gaining insight, friendships and confidence to handle life’s challenges. Buck Evans, 26, of Newport Beach, CA was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in January 2012. The Herbert program has brought him friendship and support through this challenging time in his life. “A year ago I was preparing for law school and then suddenly I learned that I have this genetic disease,” he said. “The Herbert Program has helped me adapt and given me the passion for a new career to assist type 1 diabetics like myself with financial planning and a myriad of different financial issues that can affect us.”

Heather Shields, 22, of Irvine, CA was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003 at age 11 and says “the Herbert Program has really normalized diabetes for me and empowered me to start taking my diabetes treatment more seriously. As a direct result of the opportunities this program has afforded me, I’ve taken steps to better control my diabetes. Additionally I have made some truly wonderful friends, and seeing so many of us come together to share stories and laugh has made living with diabetes less of a burden and turned it into a positive part of my life.” It is because of Lauri’s passion and support that the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center is reaching young adults with type 1 diabetes and making a positive impact in their lives.

For more information on the Herbert Program and how to connect with other young adults with type 1 diabetes please join us on Facebook.