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Hospital honors people who have lived with diabetes for 50 years

[December 21 2011] - The Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at The Hospital of Central Connecticut on Nov. 29 honored seven patients who have successfully lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 years.

Patients received medals at a ceremony and lunch and were joined by their loved ones and Joslin staff. Hospital President and CEO Clarence Silvia congratulated the group, commending their “perseverance” in managing a challenging disease. “You took control of diabetes instead of letting it control you,” he said.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin, requiring people to take insulin regularly, check their blood sugar frequently and make significant lifestyle changes to avoid complications from the disease.

Among the honorees at the medal ceremony was Joann Beeny of Kensington, who was diagnosed at age 13. “My doctor told me then I wouldn’t live to 40,” said the feisty 64-year-old. “ I told him, ‘You think so, sucker?’”

Beeny has experienced many changes in diabetes care over the years and, with help from Joslin staff, has learned a lot about managing the disease. When she was diagnosed, “I didn’t know anything about carbs,” she said. From age 13 to age 53, Beeny gave herself insulin injections. Now, she wears an insulin pump, checks her blood sugar six to eight times daily and meticulously tracks her carbohydrate intake.

Despite the challenges, Beeny is proud to have lived with diabetes for so long, and has advice for others with the disease: “Never give up. Never let diabetes take you down.”