Teen living with diabetes hopes to inspire others - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Teen living with diabetes hopes to inspire others

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Rachel Hopkins looked like any other 14-month-old baby girl, but on the inside her body was a deadly ticking time bomb. Rachel Hopkins looked like any other 14-month-old baby girl, but on the inside her body was a deadly ticking time bomb.
Rachel monitors her blood sugar in class. Rachel monitors her blood sugar in class.
Jessica Morgan Jessica Morgan
Rachel Hopkins Rachel Hopkins
Greg McCurdy Greg McCurdy

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a deadly disease that impacts millions of Americans, but a southern Indiana teen is beating the odds and hoping she can help others do the same.

Rachel Hopkins looked like any other 14-month-old baby girl, but on the inside her body was a deadly ticking time bomb.

"I was a stay at home Mom and I kept changing her diaper every 10 or 15 minutes and they were heavy diapers," said Jessica Morgan, Rachel's mother.

That's when Morgan's motherly instinct took over. "We went to the doctor to see what was wrong and they said she had type 1 diabetes and I told the doctor he was wrong. There was no way this baby could have Type 1 Diabetes. I basically called him a liar," she said.

Her life as a new mom turned upside down in one conversation. Everything before her diagnosis was as if it never happened. Their reality now lives in needles and life-saving injections.

"That was hard, to have to give her a shot. The nurse actually took my hand and made me do it the first time," she said.

There's no band-aid big enough to fix Rachel's broken pancreas. It doesn't produce insulin and her body can't regulate the amount of sugar in her blood.

If her insulin levels were too high or too low she would die.

Fighting Type 1 Diabetes is an impossible feat for some but Rachel's winning the battle.

Sixteen years later, in the hallways of Salem High School, Rachel remembered her childhood as a Type 1 Diabetic, "Middle school was the first time in my life I realized I was different from the other students."

Rachel monitors her blood sugar in class. While doing so may sound foreign to her classmates she speaks the language of 18 million Americans diagnosed with the illness.

"I've been to diabetes camp and I've seen diabetics that have let diabetes control their life and I Want diabetics to know that's not the way it has to be," she said.

Since her diagnosis in 1997 she's taught herself to stay positive, but Monday through Friday it's her teachers, like Greg McCurdy, and her classmates who cheer her on.

A cross-country rock star with a love for soccer, Rachel's an honor student who has big dreams.

After years of figuring out her diagnosis, her diabetes is now manageable and part of her routine.

She hopes her story can help others struggling with the disease write their own future.

Rachel wants to be a National Advocate for diabetes. In a video posted on YouTube she said, "I would love to be the American Diabetes Association national advocate so I can share my message that diabetics can do anything they set their minds to, despite their disease."

She may be soft spoken, but she's determined and the small town girl has a big message, "I know I wouldn't be the same if I didn't have diabetes, I am kind of grateful for it because I know it's made me the person I am today."

Rachel already submitted her application to be the ADA National Youth Advocate and is waiting to hear back. If she wins she'll help the American Diabetes Association raise money for research and education about the disease.

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