Efforts pay off for local teen
Megan Troian, second from left, 18, of Ramara Township, is the recipient of a $2,500 scholarship from the Diabetes Hope Foundation. Supporting her at the award ceremony in Toronto were RN Whitney Gowanlock, pediatric diabetes nurse educator, Kim Babcock, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, and Angela Bishop, registered social worker. Troian's pediatrician, Garry Smith, was not able to attend the ceremony, but he wrote a letter of recommendation for Troian for the award. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Megan Troian is a young woman who is living life to the fullest despite having Type 1 diabetes.
The 18-year-old Ramara Township resident was recently rewarded for her accomplishments with a scholarship from the Diabetes Hope Foundation. The foundation awards exceptional youth who have been successful in managing their diabetes, while also excelling in academics, sports and community development.
Troian said she saw the poster for the scholarship in the diabetes clinic a long time ago and decided to do the work necessary to make herself eligible.
“It’s something that always appealed to me,” she said, adding she knew she would have a chance “if I worked really hard, stayed focused and made sure I’m healthy and kept my blood sugar in check.”
Troian, a graduate of Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School, said she would put the $2,500 toward her studies to become a dietitian. She is going to Ryerson University in September. Her goal is to help others who are struggling to learn to live with Type 1 diabetes.
“The support that my dietitian has given me and my experience with diabetes, I think, would really benefit other kids. I know what they are going through. I’ve been there,” said Troian, who was diagnosed with the genetic type of diabetes in 2000.
Troian, who is insulin dependent, has to test her blood sugar many times a day.
“I have to give myself insulin every time I eat, so it’s on my mind 24/7 because if I want to do something, I have to make sure I’m OK,” she said in a phone interview with The Packet & Times from Camp Huronda, a camp for diabetic children, where she works as a counsellor.
Already, Troian helps campers manage their diabetes.
“There are some kids who come and diabetes isn’t their priority, so we are role models to them. By taking care of ourselves, they see that it’s important. When they see other kids able to go climbing or biking or swimming, they see the enjoyment and the fun in it. They realize that if they want to do that, they have to take care of themselves first,” she said.
It’s her third year as a counsellor. She attended the Huntsville-area camp for five years before that.
Troian said she has experienced many firsts at the camp. Not only has she taken part in an overnight canoeing trip, rock climbing and high ropes; she has also learned how to do her own medical work related to her diabetes.
“I took on more independence in my diabetes and not having my parents right behind me. I learned to be a lot more confident in my decisions with diabetes,” she said.
This year was the first time she went on a high-ropes course.
“I faced my own fear because I knew if the campers saw me doing something, then they would want to, and that was rewarding,” she said.
On her first overnight canoe trip a couple of years ago, Troian learned to pack not only camping equipment, but also diabetes supplies.
“You have to be prepared and skilled enough to take that on,” she said.
While it’s important to be independent, she has learned it is also important to work with others and know it’s OK to ask for help, she said.
Troian's mother, Deb, said of the 43 people who received scholarships, her daughter was the only one who was accompanied by her diabetes team.
“It made me really proud to have such a dedicated team to support me and my accomplishments,” Troian said.
When she heard about her award, Troian was shocked, but also proud of herself.
“Diabetes can’t stop me from doing things. You have to embrace it if you want to move forward,” she said.