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Leader of the Month: Julia Blanchette

Posted on 09 February 2018

Hello, again! This week I was asked to write about a mentor who has helped me develop as a leader. Well, there is something very special about moms who care for kids with type 1 diabetes (T1D). I have had many excellent professional mentors, but nobody lives up to the influence my mom has had on me. My mom is not in academics nor the healthcare profession, yet her lessons have impacted my career and my personality immensely. It wasn’t until I was an adult, however, that I realized this.

My mom was an ordinary mom until I was diagnosed with T1D… Then she became a super mom. At the time, I had no idea how strong she was. She became my primary medical caretaker, and at the time, there was limited self-management technology available. She went nights without sleeping just to check my blood sugar multiple times throughout the night. She counted carbohydrates for me and dosed my insulin for me before I learned how to. She changed my pump site for me until I learned how to. She was an exhausted caretaker of a child with T1D, yet she still did two amazing things-- she allowed me to live a normal childhood and advocated for me.

My mom educated other parents how to care for me so that I was still able to have sleepovers. No matter how nervous my mom was leaving me at a friend’s house, she did it so I could feel normal. For years, my mom organized a walk team for the walk to cure diabetes to raise money for a cure and to bring together a community of individuals who supported me. My mom was there at every single swim practice, waiting at the side of the pool with low blood sugar treatment and my glucometer (to check my blood sugar) handy. She drove me hours away to diabetes camp each summer and to visit my friends from diabetes camp throughout the year. My mom ensured that T1D did not get in the way of me being a kid.

Additionally, my mom advocated for me. She advocated for my rights as a child living with T1D, and she made sure that it didn’t hold me back. My mom stood up for me when teachers at school did not understand my T1D. She was always involved in our local T1D community and introduced me to others with T1D. She fought for endless hours with insurance companies to make sure I had the insulin pump and T1D medical supplies that I deserved.

When I went to college, it was apparent that my mom was my number one fan. She told me to keep pushing through clinical when I doubted my decision to go into nursing at first. She cheered for me at the end of each semester of nursing school. She kept reminding me of why I went into nursing—she inspired my determination and my drive not to let T1D hold me back for adversity to motivate my career. Since I started graduate school, she has reminded me of why I keep pushing through the difficult times and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, here are four key things my mom taught me that have influenced my career.

  1. Adversity is inspiration.
  2. Don’t let barriers (in my case, diabetes) get in the way of achieving goals.
  3. Community involvement is one of the best support systems.
  4. Hard work pays off.

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