Story written by Hillary Smith (University of Kentucky Public Relations) and originally appeared on You know.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan 19, 2021) – “The truth is, every parent worries about their child for a variety of reasons, it’s only ours.”
This worry began for Tammy and Jeff Marsh in 2017. Their youngest son Dillon – a junior in high school – began to complain that he was tired and losing weight. Symptoms then began to worsen during his baseball season with the University of Kentucky rookie losing 26 pounds. “His strength on the pitcher’s mound had also diminished and he was easily tired. Looking back we should have recognized the problems earlier, sometimes you just don’t see what’s in front of you, ”Ms. Marsh said.
In the middle of the Pennsylvania State Championship playoffs, Dillon and his parents made an appointment with their longtime family doctor. After doing some blood tests, the doctor came back with the results. “The second he walked through the door, Dillon and I looked at each other because we knew something was wrong by the look on his face. It was terrifying.
It was what this doctor did next that laid the groundwork for the Marsh family’s journey after Dillon was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “He showed us an article on Bobby Clarke.”
Clarke is a well-known professional hockey player who also suffers from type 1 diabetes. “Our doctor was very familiar with Dillon’s athletic goals, so he wanted to present the disease on a positive note, telling Dillon that he didn’t ‘There is nothing that he still cannot achieve after he has brought the disease under control, ”Ms. Marsh said.
The Swamps remember watching in awe of the way their son handled everything thrown at him … handling it with grace and optimism. Days later, Dillon was admitted to the hospital and spent four days on an intensive inpatient program for newly diagnosed patients. “During our stay in the hospital, we saw him comforting smaller children and telling them that they would be fine. I was like ‘Really kid, where do you get that strength when you’ve just been diagnosed?’ He just knew that this disease would not define him or frustrate his goals. “
As Tammy and Jeff walked home from the hospital with Dillon, they realized they only had one year left with their son at home before sending him off to college for nine hours with this new challenge.
During this year the Marsh family celebrated a lot. Dillon signed his letter of intent to attend and play baseball in the UK, he was awarded several scholarships, it was his last season of high school and graduating from high school. However, between all these “durations”, they embarked on a journey around her “new” diagnosis.
This year has also been filled with what Ms. Marsh calls her own soul-searching to help her feel good with her son who is leaving home and is responsible for managing his diabetes. “The idea of it being a nine-hour drive just a year after the diagnosis was a little intimidating.
She started researching the Lexington area and came across Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center (BBDC) of UK HealthCare. “I could not have been more thrilled when I found out that the Barnstable Brown Center existed and was a premier diabetes center. This type of program is not the norm but the exception – and it was in. Dillon’s new yard. “
BBDC Dr. Kristen Stakelin helped as Dillon made the transition away from home and his parents as well as the transition to life as a Division One student-athlete, “Dillon was a joy to know. He came to us with a such a good attitude. He is disciplined and takes very well groomed. Rather than let his diagnosis distract him, he was able to attend his classes and keep his scholarship in the British baseball team. “
Stakelin says that thanks in no small part to the vision and generosity of the Barnstable Brown family, BBDC can provide comprehensive diabetes care and education throughout the lifespan. “A center like the BBDC is especially important for someone like Dillon who has moved away from his family and doctor shortly after the diagnosis. A healthcare team should be in place to help navigate everything from good blood sugar control to “Who to call needs something?” “,” Where can I get the prescriptions filled? Or “What if I have an after-hours problem?” “
Unfortunately, the transition from high school to college can be one of those stressful life events that seem to unmask or trigger type 1 diabetes in susceptible people. It is not uncommon for us to see a few newly diagnosed students each year. For a young adult who already has so much to adjust in that span of time, this can obviously be a source of anxiety not only for the student but also for the family left at home feeling as if they are couldn’t help it. This feeling of losing control of the situation is something BBDC can help navigate. We are able to build an indispensable team and resource. “
Three years into this chapter of his life, Dillon is thriving both academically and athletically. Ms. Marsh says the University of Kentucky, the coaches and trainers of Dillon, BBDC and many more owe thanks for their successes. “Everyone who has had their best interests at heart here in Kentucky has made me feel more confident.”
Just as the doctor explained it was possible when he was first diagnosed, Dillon still has big dreams for the future. He is working towards being drafted to play Major League Baseball where he hopes to reach a wider audience to spread his positive message. In addition to his accomplishments in the classroom and in the field, Dillon was also named a Global Ambassador for Team Type One.
Like Dillon uses her story to help others, his mom is now doing the same. Tammy Marsh says her own son inspires her as he handles each day with an immense amount of courage and positivity. She now hopes to help other parents who find themselves in this same direction. Ms. Marsh says she’s glad she took the time early to be angry, sad and terrified. She says it all quickly turned into hope – hope for her son’s future. “Anything was possible for him. He was just going to have to do things a little differently than the others.”
Tammy and Jeff Marsh recently retired from the police and moved from their 21-year-old home – Lancaster, Pa. – to Lexington, so it’s easier to attend Dillon’s baseball games. She hopes to offer support and encouragement to other families who have recently had a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “No child or family is the same. No one will experience this journey the same. There is no one. has no playbook. Don’t beat yourself up to be angry or sad. Give yourself time to process it all and start over… because you can’t change it. family won’t be exactly the same as everyone else’s, she hopes her shared experiences and challenges can help them along the way.
Stakelin says she greatly encourages parents of newly diagnosed patients to reach out and talk to someone like Dillon’s mother, “Find a support group of people with similar circumstances. Just to know you don’t. are not alone and having someone who has “been there” to reach out is reassuring. “
Ms. Marsh says the biggest advice she can give to other parents is simply, “Be your child’s greatest support.” According to her, depending on the child’s age, it is important that they have a sense of belonging to the disease and the knowledge necessary to manage it. “I wanted to protect him and do everything. I realized that it would not benefit him in the future. So instead, we were all his greatest cheerleaders. This included Dillon’s older brother Colin, who was constantly reading studies, following educational blogs, and collecting information. “We all just got on board.”
This strong family effort, coupled with the support system he found in Lexington, has allowed Dillon to achieve his goals so far… and dream of even more dreams.
“We are incredibly blessed and proud of where we are today. Remember that this disease is manageable. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t define who your child is or what they will accomplish. All of her dreams are possible, as I saw her first. hand with Dillon. “