Home Voorhees News Voorhees family preparing for JDRF One Walk at end of October

Voorhees family preparing for JDRF One Walk at end of October

Many often confuse Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, however Alexa and her parents are fighting to find a cure for Type 1 after their daughters diagnose three years ago

The JDRF One Walk comes to Gloucester Township Oct. 28 at the Blackwood Campus of Camden County College. As described on the JDRF website, the goal of the event is to create a world without Type 1 diabetes.

Families from across South Jersey will come together to walk to support research and those affected by the disease. Type 1 affects children and adults suddenly, unlike Type 2, and is not brought on by diet or a lack of exercise before being diagnosed, but by the body attacking itself.

For one family in Voorhees, the disease hits close to home.

In December of 2015, Ira and Michelle Besser’s daughter Alexa was having problems wetting the bed and was always thirsty. Michelle, being a pharmaceutical rep, was familiar with the symptoms of Type 1, and called the pediatrician just to be safe.

With Alexa being 3 years old at the time, most people told the parents their daughter was wetting the bed for attention, because they had just had a baby boy a few months prior. However, Michelle suspected something was medically wrong and requested blood work be done just to be safe.

According to Michelle, when they got to the pediatrician and tested her blood sugar levels, Alexa was around a 650-blood glucose level. Normal levels are typically between 70 and 100.

“So they then sent [us] directly to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania,” said Michelle. “She wasn’t in full DKA; we were lucky that she didn’t go into a coma but she was in pretty bad shape.”

DKA refers to diabetic ketoacidosis, which becomes a worry when glucose levels in the blood become too high. Some can mistake symptoms that come with DKA as flu-like, and without proper attention, can lead to a coma or death.

Since being diagnosed, it has changed the way Alexa and her family has to live. Alexa has to think about every little thing she eats, making it much more tedious than how most people think about food or drinks.

“Even a piece of gum. She can’t just walk around like a typical kid and pick something up off the table, we have to think about it and dose insulin for it,” said Michelle.

Alexa wears a continuous glucose monitor, sending Michelle and Ira alerts on their phones for their daughter’s blood sugar levels and where they are trending. Although clearly the goal is to always keep the levels at a normal, healthy range, this helps the family watch for declines that prompt immediate action for her short-term health, while spikes in her levels are more damaging for her long-term health.

Michelle says Alexa, now 6, has grown to become more understanding of the disease and when to make her parents aware that something might be wrong.

“When she was younger she probably wasn’t as aware but now she’s fully aware,” said Michelle. “She needs to tell me what she’s eating, she needs to always be monitored.”

“One of the things that’s really challenging with this disease is that it’s 24/7, there’s no breaks,” said Michelle. “We have to act as her pancreas.”

Although Type 1 is a difficult disease to manage, especially in kids, her parents strive to keep Alexa living as much of a normal lifestyle as possible. She takes gymnastics, she dances and she plays sports as well. However, that comes on the heels of more foresight and planning about Alexa’s blood glucose levels while she is active.

Although it is a life-altering disease, Alexa has since become a JDRF ambassador and has begun helping kids who are newly diagnosed with the disease in learning how to live with it and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Alexa and her family are participating in the JDRF One Walk on Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Blackwood Campus of Camden County College. To donate to her team, visit www2.JDRF.org and donate to Team Alexa for the Gloucester Township 2018 team. The family has raised $10,000 during their first two years since being involved in the fundraiser.

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