By Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — Helena Lubin may only be 12 years old, but since she was diagnosed in 2012, she has been living and coping with Type 1 diabetes.
There were several symptoms that lead doctors to discover the existence of her auto-immune disease. “I was really tired, I was not hungry, I was very thirsty and I had to go to the bathroom a lot,” Lubin said. “I could not even take a bite of food without feeling full and sick.”
Eventually she ended up in the hospital.
“They did a fingerprick and then they said you have to go to the ER,” Lubin said. “I had no idea what was happening, I was screaming at people to tell me what was happening.”
Lubin, now a seventh-grader at Gowana Middle School, has lived in Clifton Park her entire life. Her father, Evan, works as a computer tech for the state Workers Compensation Board and her mother, Annette, works for Emblem Health.
In March 2015, she traveled to NYC to participate in a panel along with others who struggle with a life-changing disorder or situation and she was chosen to be the youngest of the 2015 recipients of the Courage & Perseverance Award.
Lubin is very active with fundraising for research and — hopefully someday — a cure for her disease.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has a three-mile walk every year to raise money for a cure. This year’s walk took place on May 3. “They use the phrase ‘Turn Type 1 into Type None.’ ” Lubin said. “I raised over $5,000.”
This isn’t the only way she raises money — she also bakes. “I make cookies, muffins and french macaroons,” she said. “My dad sells them at his office.”
Lubin used to carry a case full of needles (she was going through about 60 to 70 per week) to inject insulin when necessary, but now she has the pump. “It makes it a lot easier,” she said. “I don’t have to go to the nurse every single time I need to adjust.”
Managing her diabetes is a full-time job. She has to check her sugar before and after eating, pricking her fingers to test her sugar, and when participating in recreational activities, such as rock climbing, she has to make sure that the harness and the ropes won’t rub against the pod currently lodged in her left arm.
No matter where she is or what she is doing, you will always see Lubin carrying a brown leather purse with a black strap. This houses her diabetic supplies; she can’t go anywhere without them. Inside the handbag you will find her Personal Diabetes Manager, which communicates with the Pod in her arm wirelessly to deliver insulin based on her personal settings, but it works only if PDM and pod are less than 5 feet apart; chemstrips; a needle clicker, which is quite similar to an epi-pen, that serves as a lancet; and of course candy — pure sugar that doesn’t melt, to consume when her blood sugar gets low. She pulls out two plastic bags filled with candy corn to demonstrate.
Lubin, like most kids would be, was not a huge fan of needles before her diagnosis. Now, however, pricking her fingers has become old hat — repetition has had a numbing effect.
“I’ve gotten so used to them,” she said. “Every once in a while my friends will ask me, ‘Do they hurt?’ And I honestly don’t know anymore; I’m so used to it that it doesn’t really faze me.”
Five questions for Helena Lubin
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Light green, blue or purple.
Q: If you could have any pet, what would it be and why?
A: A dog, I love them.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “The Harry Potter” series and “The Hunger Games” series.
Q: What is one of your biggest fears?
A: Embarrassing myself in front of people.
Q: What is your perfect ice cream sundae?
A: Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, a cherry (or five) and rainbow sprinkles.