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Community challenged to wear blue for National Diabetes Day

November is recognized across the country as National Diabetes Month. It is a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. Through a partnership with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the focus of this year’s awareness campaign is on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Shayla Ruiz is a local young lady that was diagnosed two years ago with Type 1 Diabetes. To raise awareness in the community locally, Ruiz’s family is asking that everyone wear blue this Thursday.

“Last year, we had a lot of friends, family and businesses that took part in our challenge,” Shayla’s mother Julie explained. “This year, we want the challenge to be bigger. So, Thursday, wear your blue to support our girl and everyone fighting this horrible disease.”

Ruiz is challenging the community to wear blue and then post a photo on social media with the hashtag #TeamShayla.

The diagnosis that Ruiz received two years ago is Type 1 diabetes.

“Shayla was diagnosed Oct. 7, 2017,” her mother Julie said. “What started out with what we thought was a stomach virus ended her up in ICU at Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.” Shayla spent three days there and another four in a regular room while her family learned how to give her shots and manage Type 1.

“Currently, Type 1 has no cure,” Ruiz said. “Insulin is the only thing that keeps Shayla alive. Her pancreas doesn’t produce insulin anymore.”

According to NIDDKD, Type 1 diabetes happens when your immune system destroys cells in your pancreas that are called beta cells, which are the ones that produce insulin.

“Nov. 14 is the day that Dr. Fredrick Banting was the first person to successfully extract insulin and administer to a diabetic,” Ruiz explained of the day of the challenge. “This is his birthday. That’s why we wear Blue.”

In 1921, Dr. Banting successfully extracted insulin and administered it to diabetic patients. Prior to 1921, Type 1 had a zero percent survival rate. In 2006, the blue circle became the universal symbol of diabetes and since then November 14 is recognized by wearing blue to show support and encouragement to those with diabetes.

She said that they have been working hard to raise awareness and help educate everyone about Type 1.

“That’s why we ask everyone to wear blue to support Type 1,” she said. “I know a few kids in our area that also have Type 1, but I don’t think they are as open as Shayla is. I always tell her this is her life and to educate everyone she can and never be ashamed. She is so strong and never let it get her down even when I know she needs a break.”

According to research conducted by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD), adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes. The cause of this is high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart over a period of time. The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes can also help lower your chances of having heart disease or a stroke:

• Stop smoking or using other tobacco products;

• Manage your A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels;

• Develop or maintain healthy lifestyle habits – be more physically active and learn ways to manage stress;

• Take medicines as prescribed by your doctor.