David Haney was 14 years old when he first noticed the symptoms, drastic weight loss and chronic fatigue. He knew something was wrong. His mom took him to the doctor and it was then that they learned Haney was a Type 1 diabetic.
“When I got diagnosed I saw my mother get all upset and start crying,” he said. “I wondered what was going on. What is this?”
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. It develops
when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, called beta cells. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with
diet or lifestyle. Doctors and researchers do not know what causes it, and to date, there is no cure.
“It’s not a horrible disease, but it can cause long-term damage if you don’t take care of it,” said Haney. “It’s hard and it’s complicated to manage. I’ve done pretty well, but I’ve had lots of support.”
Haney credits family and friends for helping him manage his diabetes the past 26 years, but he knows many kids don’t have that level of support, which is why he donates toward diabetes organizations during the Combined Federal Campaign. He said he supports all diabetic research, but since he was diagnosed at such a young age, he tends to focus on juvenile diabetes education and research.
“It’s the kids that just got the disease that I think about,” he said. “They’re scared and they don’t know what they’re getting into, so they may not take it seriously.”
Haney said he wants those kids to know that while they have a life-threatening illness, they can still be kids. He recalls going on a trip with his doctor shortly after he was diagnosed. They went rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and did other outdoor activities.
“Trips like that – where they take new diabetics to teach them and show them that they’re still normal people – I think those kinds of things help a lot,” he said.
Haney is now a DoD OIG Audit Project Manager, and has been part of the organization for nearly four years – first at the Hawaii field office for three years, and a little over a year at the headquarters. He uses an insulin pump, which helps him manage his sugar, but said he still holds out hope for the day there will be a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
“Researchers are close,” he said. “There’s a lot of different potential cures out there and they’ve been doing trials, but they seem to have been doing trials for the past 20 years. I think they’re getting better; they just need more money to hopefully get them over the edge.”
Family, Support Help OIG Manager Maintain Health, Outlook