Type 1 Diabetes: Sarah and Elizabeth's Story

“We’ve been together forever.” “We’re the same but different.” That’s how twins Sarah and Elizabeth Nicell, two giggly 8-year-olds, describe themselves.

In addition to their bubbly personalities, the two also share an illness that requires ongoing medical management.

The girls showed the first signs of type 1 diabetes at age 3. It started with Elizabeth. She had a virus and flu symptoms. They took her to the doctor, but she wasn't getting better. She was also thirsty and going to the bathroom a lot.

The doctor recommended Elizabeth go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was treated. About three weeks later, her sister Sarah started showing the same signs and she was also admitted to CHOP.

Finding care closer to home

Now, the twins check their blood sugar about eight times a day. They used to take insulin injections four times a day, but now they use an insulin pump. They also rarely, if ever, go to the Hospital in Philadelphia.

Instead, their mom, Amy Nicell, takes the girls four times a year to the CHOP Specialty Care & Surgery Center in Voorhees, NJ, a 25-minute ride from their home in Glassboro, NJ. There, they see the same people who have been caring for them for years: nurse practitioner Marianne Buzby, MSN, CRNP, RN, and Wilma Rossi, MD, their endocrinologist, both part of CHOP's Diabetes Center.

“It’s great going to the Voorhees center. It’s nice not to have to go into the city and fight traffic, and it’s the same doctors as in Philadelphia,” said Amy.

they take excellent care of the girls. they answer all of our questions and they have the best care for them at chop.

Controlling their disease

Amy says the twins have their diabetes under control through monitoring, diet and regular appointments.

“For the most part, we have a pretty good routine down. But new things come up all the time," Amy says. "We just kind of roll with it and adjust.”

Sarah and Elizabeth were featured recently in a radio ad that talks about their diabetes and how they receive their treatment through the CHOP Care Network.

“The girls were so excited” about hearing themselves on the radio, said Amy. The entire family was excited, including dad Thomas and sister Grace, age 3. “When I took the girls to school, their teachers had heard it!”

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Tools to Manage Diabetes

These resources will help your child and family manage blood sugar testing, highs and lows, insulin, nutrition, and more.

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Life With Diabetes

Review our information about support and coping, school, teen topics, and general well-being.


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