Supporting Youth with Diabetes to Live Vibrantly

Nathan racing at London’s Forest City Velodrome.

Nathan Finch is an 18 year old from Exeter, Ontario who knows how to survive in the wilderness, save lives in the water and maintain good grades, while also working an after school job. Since 2009, Nathan and his family have known he has Type 1 diabetes. So far, Nathan has done an exceptional job of ensuring his condition does not hold him back from doing the things he loves. His family acknowledges that a great deal of Nathan’s success can be attributed to the incredible patient- and family-centred support he receives through the Diabetes Program at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

Before Nathan’s first visit to the Diabetes Program, he experienced inexplicable weight loss, an unquenchable thirst and fatigue. This was a frightening time for his family, and they knew he needed help. Since December 1, 2009, Nathan’s care team has taught him to always carry Jelly Beans to regulate his blood sugar, to accurately read and replenish his insulin levels, and to eat nutritious meals to conquer his endless list of activities.

Nathan admits that, at times, dealing with diabetes can be “depressing and overwhelming” but, “Children’s Hospital has been so supportive – the whole team is always there. Even when I am not willing to help myself, they are there to help me,” he explains.

Nathan is at a pivotal time in his young life. Not only will he be graduating from high school this year, but he will also be graduating from paediatric to adult care. For many teenagers, this transition can be extraordinarily difficult, and up to 41 per cent of transition-aged youth with Type 1 diabetes drop out of care within the first year. This puts young people at an increased risk for critical illnesses associated with diabetes, which can include heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and the loss of limbs.

Thanks to the generosity of Children’s Health Foundation donors, over the last several months, Children’s Hospital has been able to offer more than 40 patients, like Nathan, additional support as they transition into adult care. The Transition Readiness Adolescent Complications Clinic (TRACC) augments efforts on transition readiness in a stream-lined stand-alone diabetes clinic. TRACC is creating a culture of transition through assessment and education services that were not previously achievable in the all-ages clinic.

Your support enables TRACC to help an increasing number of adolescents to remain engaged in the management of their diabetes, encouraging them to live optimally during the most formative years of their lives. For Nathan and his family, this means that he will continue to be a mentor, a cyclist and an apprentice electrician because as he states, “Nothing - especially my diabetes - will stop me!”