Meet Micaela Wollschlager as she shares why she participates in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® in Phoenix every year.
Why do YOU walk to Stop Diabetes?
Diabetes doesn’t skip a generation in my family: I didn’t realize how true this was until November 2010. My diabetes education, however, started far before that.
I first learned about diabetes at a young age, when my aunt was diagnosed with type 1. I remember learning about her disease and what she had to go through when my mom took me to a diabetes symposium. I saw insulin pumps and blood glucose monitors and quickly learned that this was something that I didn’t want to experience, if I could help it. From that point on, I wanted to do everything I could to help my aunt fight this disease.
My mother created a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes team, Ceal’s Earthy Legs, to help raise money and awareness for diabetes. I watched her give talks about diabetes and how it affected our family, and I attended charity events. However, while my mother and I were raising money for our team, my aunt’s health began to decline. She lost both of her legs and her eyesight to diabetes. In 2001, she lost her life. Not until then did I realize how serious diabetes was.
In the next eight years, I witnessed three cousins also become diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I continued to help my mother raise money for the American Diabetes Association but was not as active as when I was a little girl. After all, I was in college pursuing a teaching career, finding the love of my life and becoming an adult. Nevertheless, diabetes doesn’t take a break just because you are having fun and enjoying life.
In 2009 I started feeling tired, gaining unexpected weight and feeling sick after eating certain foods. With much encouragement from my boyfriend, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. After a year of treatment I still didn’t feel like myself, so I went to see an endocrinologist to find some answers. After our discussion she ordered a glucose screening. I knew the word “glucose” could only mean one thing: a test for diabetes. I was scared to death. Could this disease that had plagued my family possibly be coming for me next?
After the screening I had my follow-up visit with my doctor. All I remember hearing were the words “insulin resistant”— I was told I had prediabetes, the precursor to type 2 diabetes. I could only think about what my cousins were going through with type 1 diabetes. The doctor told me that if I didn’t alter my lifestyle I would develop type 2 diabetes later on. Reality set it in, and I knew I needed to make a change.
It’s been almost two years, and I’m still taking my doctor’s advice. I exercise constantly and always eat healthy. I also encourage my students and the high school girls I coach to lead a more active lifestyle. I’ve followed my mother’s footsteps and started to take a more active role in the diabetes community. In 2011 I joined the Phoenix area’s Step Out Committee as Publicity Chair and started a team at the school where I currently teach.
I walk to raise money toward education and research that will help Stop Diabetes. I go out into the community to shed light on the disease and bring awareness that it can affect anyone. The Step Out walk is a step toward healthier lifestyles and a culmination of hard work and dedication—not only from committees that spend hundreds of hours planning, but also the teams and individual walkers who come together to end diabetes. I want to find a cure for diabetes. This is why I Step Out and walk.
My journey is far from over. I will be getting rescreened in October to see how I’m progressing—I can only hope that my efforts to remain diabetes-free have been successful. Diabetes may not skip generations in my family, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure it skips me.
Thank you for sharing your story, Micaela!