It was only the second year when I went to Children's Congress 2001, but we all knew that there was tremendous significance in that children were lobbying for themselves and that this could have a positive impact on Congress and on the lives of the families who went.
When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, there is an initial belief that this could quite possibly be the worst thing that could ever happen. But I learned that that doesn't have to be true. Certainly diabetes has its moments where you cry and wish you could just throw all the diabetes supplies off the Empire State Building, but since you can't do that, it's amazing the positives you can glean out of diabetes to remind you that perhaps life with diabetes isn't terrible all the time.
One of the first things I remember believing after going to Children's Congress was that I finally had a reason for having diabetes. At first, it just seems so random and unfair. I didn't deserve this, I don't want this, I can't handle this. But when I went to Children's Congress, I saw that there was something I could do with diabetes — I could help find a cure for it. Diabetes may have happened to me but now I have the choice of what to do with it.
Children's Congress gave me the opportunity to not just be a victim. Until there is a cure, I also get to help people cope with diabetes. I get to help people. Life handed me something that could have been the worst thing to ever happen, but I find a tremendous sense of power and self-determination in taking that and changing the world with it.