Diabetes Awareness Month: Foran Teacher Shares Story of Daughter’s Struggle with Diabetes

‘She used to go to slumber parties, but now it seems like parents are too afraid to have her over, and it’s heartbreaking’


Ms. Sarah DiGiacomo

A true warrior: Ms. DiGiacomo’s daughter Mena, wearing her diabetes warrior shirt as she continues to fight strong every single day. November 14, 2022.

          November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and Foran history teacher Ms. Sarah DiGiacomo has been working to raise awareness about not only the physical impacts of the disease but the emotional toll it takes on people.

          The disease not only impacts the person who has it but their family as well. It creates a social and economic burden that the people affected must learn to deal with. They do so by setting aside time, money, and efforts in order to treat the condition, such as paying for insulin and allocating time for blood sugar checks and treatment.

          DiGiacomo’s eight-year-old daughter, Mena, has type one diabetes, and DiGiacomo has been extremely active on social media to raise awareness about the disease, sharing stories on how she and her daughter have been affected, and how it has socially, emotionally, and financially impacted the family.

          DiGiacomo states, “Our lifestyle has changed drastically. Mena had to get a phone to use as a medical device for checking her blood sugar. We now have to plan when and what we eat to make sure that Mena has enough insulin in her system to process the glucose and the carbohydrates.”

          Mena has to visit her school nurse before every snack and every meal, before every recess and every gym class, to make sure that she won’t go into diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a serious complication where the body produces excess blood acids, according to cdc.gov. She also has to make sure she doesn’t have a seizure from low blood sugar.

          “Every morning, I have to email the nurse with the number of grams of carbs in her meals and snacks, so Mena can get the right amount of insulin,” DiGiacomo adds. “Everywhere we go, we need to bring a diabetes bag with sugar to correct lows and insulin in case her pump fails. If we forgot the bag, we have to turn around and go get it.”

          She hopes to educate the community on the prominence and difficulty of the disease, and she wants others to feel comfortable talking about the disease with those affected by it. Even deeper into that, educating the public helps to show kids that this condition is not ‘weird’  and ‘abnormal,’ decreasing the social stigma regarding diabetes. The stigma hurts as much as the disease, DiGiacomo says, explaining how it has changed her daughter’s life.

          “She used to go to slumber parties, but now it seems like parents are too afraid to have her over, and it’s heartbreaking,” DiGiacomo says.

          As DiGiacomo and her daughter have progressed through the diabetes journey, they have learned a lot, and DiGiacomo has advice for others who don’t know exactly how to approach or treat a person with diabetes. 

          She states, “I think that people can help by asking questions in a kind way, and keeping an open mind. The hardest part for my eight-year-old is explaining to other children why she wears a Dexcom and a pump.”

          DiGiacomo explains that many people assume that Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same, but they are very different. 

          “Mena has a condition with no known cause and no known cure, but Type 2 can be cured with diet and exercise. [People with Type 1 diabetes] are battling stereotypes all the time based on the notion that they ‘ate too much sugar’ to get diabetes.” 

          Many students and staff at Foran have been educated on diabetes, and have become a witness of its effects. Health teacher Jeffrey Raucci is one of these staff members, and he hopes to share what he has learned to spread awareness and guide patients through a happy and healthy lifestyle.

          Raucci states, “Diabetes is extremely serious. Type 2 diabetes—adult onset—happens when someone’s body becomes resistant to insulin and doesn’t utilize it properly or efficiently and thus needs higher amounts to do normal activities.”

          Although diabetes is often associated with poor health and bad life habits, that is only the case for Type 2. 

          “If we’re talking type 1 diabetes where it is genetic and happens through adolescence, they need to be more conscious of their insulin levels constantly.” Raucci states.

          While there is no way for a person to prevent Type 1 diabetes, Raucci says there are ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes, such as limiting sugar intake and processed foods, at least 30 minutes of exercising and 10,000 steps every day, eating a healthy diet that includes vegetables, fruit, lean meats, nuts, and grains.

          To find more information and follow/support Ms. DiGiacomo and her daughter’s diabetes journey, you can visit and support her Twitter @sarah_digiacomo.