Joe is a 24-year-old assistant basketball coach at Delaware Valley University. He was born in Glenside, PA, where he lived from preschool through college. Joe attended Arcadia University where he studied communications and played basketball, breaking school records for rebounds, points and almost every major statistical category.
In 2015, Joe got to live his dream and was paid to play the sport he loves professionally. He was hired to play against the Harlem Globetrotters and traveled with the team throughout the United States and Europe. His family is proud of his accomplishments, but are most impressed that he’s achieved his goals while managing diabetes.
Joe’s 14-year anniversary as a diabetic
Joe was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002 when he was 9 years old. The initial years as a diabetic were the most challenging.
“I just wasn’t mature enough to figure out how I was going to solve this problem and defeat diabetes. There were a lot of tears, and I used to pray at night for a cure. I kept questioning, ‘Why?’ I wondered why I had to have diabetes, and why I was the one who had to take insulin shots,” says Joe.
Around Joe’s fifth anniversary with diabetes, his perspective started to change. The tears and questioning began to fade.
“I learned the most important lesson in my life; i can't change the fact that i have diabetes, so i need to embrace it. i switched my focus from defeating diabetes to figuring out how to live life successfully with it.”
Joe used athletics as his inspiration. He learned from playing basketball that developing good work habits yielded good results. “The more shots I make, the better shooter I become. The more effort I put into maintaining my diabetes, the healthier I feel, and in turn, the happier I become,” says Joe.
Embracing life with diabetes
Fourteen years later, Joe realizes that diabetes is an important part of his life. He shared his thoughts on his journey.
“Anybody with diabetes will say that it teaches you about yourself. I can honestly say that diabetes has made me into who I am today, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
At first, I learned how many carbohydrates are in foods, which foods affected me and how my body could detect low or high blood sugar levels. Eventually, all of this became second nature to me. I saw it as my way to live.
My best advice for anyone reading this, diabetic or not, is to embrace what is given to you. There may be times when you lose faith because of your diabetes. Realize that you always have people out there who can relate to you and are pulling for you to succeed. Don’t ever let diabetes restrict you from anything that you want to do. I never once thought that diabetes would stop me from playing professional basketball.
In fact, diabetes may have contributed to my successes. I often played basketball because it lowered my high blood sugars. If I didn’t have diabetes, I might not have played as much basketball. I might not have followed my dreams and played professionally.
I was able to get on television and the radio to talk about having diabetes. I use it as a tool to help me professionally and stand out in the crowd. When people can see that a person is successful while having diabetes, it builds your credibility. You demonstrate your responsibility, maturity and ability to multitask.
I’m now more knowledgeable about healthy eating and can better empathize with people. My diabetes expanded my comfort zone. I am a better leader because of my ongoing journey with diabetes.
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or are celebrating an anniversary like me, I believe we all come to the realization that there are a benefits from having type 1 diabetes and it becomes a part of us; it’s just a matter of your perception!”