Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism and Celiac Disease: Hannah's Story

Thirteen-year-old Hannah Rowan has type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and was recently diagnosed with celiac disease. But all of these auto-immune conditions don't slow her down.

Hannah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003, and she's been taking a pill every night to regulate her hyperthyroidism. In the past year, Hannah was diagnosed with celiac disease after a blood test and endoscopy at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

hannahToday, Hannah eats a gluten-free diet and continues celiac treatment with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at CHOP. This has required an adjustment in eating for her and food preparation for her family. Still, since becoming gluten-free, Hannah has maintained better control of her sugar, gained weight and grown inches.

All of these auto-immune conditions, don’t stop Hannah from doing the things she loves — swimming, playing soccer, riding bikes and scooters, dancing ballet and hip hop, singing and acting.

Hannah loves the spotlight. She has performed the National Anthem at various local events, sang as a guest with the popular Chatter Band, and acted in local plays, including The King and I, Les Miserables and Annie. She also competed in the 2010 National America Miss Pageant and won the pre-teen Miss Pennsylvania Actress competition. She went on to compete nationally in Los Angeles, CA.

Raising awareness of type 1 diabetes

Hannah has watched her friends, family and community give selflessly to help her and to support diabetes, and this has inspired her to give back.

In May 2010, she was fortunate enough to have joined forces with Ironman Andy Holder. Andy and Hannah had an immediate connection and began brainstorming ways they could raise awareness in their community. One of their creations was Hannah’s Helping Hands, a communication network for children living with diabetes, where they can discuss problems, cares and concerns with other peers living with type 1 diabetes.

Hannah has also been working with JDRF since age 4. She has served as a Junior Ambassador of JDRF, which allowed her to meet the mayor of Philadelphia, the governor of Pennsylvania and other officials.

In June 2011, she attended the Children’s Congress in Washington, DC, as a delegate to lobby for a cure. It provided her with memories, experiences and friendships she will cherish for a lifetime.

Dreaming big

When asked what advice she has for children newly diagnosed with type 1, Hannah replied, “You do not have to live your life with limits. You are the same you, just with more responsibility.

"Dream big. You can make all of your dreams come true!”


Originally posted: September 2012