Jackie Giovanoni, who was working as a Lilly sales representative when her husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), is motivated by him to stay involved, help fight for a cure and support the T1D community. “We’re one another’s greatest supporters. He recognizes that his health is important not only to him but to our whole family—to me, to our two boys. He’s the heart of our home.”
When Jackie and her then boyfriend, now husband Jim were 25, she knew something wasn’t right. “I am a nurse by training and when I saw Jim experience the signs of T1D, I was worried,” Jackie said. “I was overwhelmed with what a diagnosis would mean for Jim even though I had a good idea of the science of diabetes. I had not experienced T1D at home in a non-clinical setting before. It was a tough time for him and I struggled to balance providing support while sharing what I knew about the disease. I didn’t do a great job, and in fact, it’s a skill I continue to practice today.”
Over the next few years, Jackie and Jim worked out their new normal. “Not only were we learning about T1D together, but we were learning about how his body specifically handles diabetes and how we needed to work as a team.”
Jackie and Jim learned a lot through trial and error, like how much Jim’s blood sugar spikes after eating rice, how great but how complicated exercise can be, and what the warning signs of a low are (hooray for juice boxes). They learned that with T1D, “you have to be okay with being imperfect. Blood sugar readings are just numbers that help you make choices. It’s like a compass; it tells you where you are so you can make decisions that point you in the direction you would like to go.”
Jackie next had the opportunity to support her company’s government affairs and advocacy efforts. Now Lilly Diabetes’ Global Director of Advocacy and Professional Relations, Jackie considers her work one of the greatest privileges and opportunities of her life. “I love what I do. Representing Lilly Diabetes and engaging with the diabetes community to make life better for people with T1D is exciting. The work we accomplish helps the community but also my family. It’s very personal for me.”
Being a part of the T1D community has been insightful and meaningful for Jackie. “Like many things, it’s hard to really understand T1D until you or someone you love experiences it. When we reflect back on our experiences, we encountered a T1D community that embraced us as part of their “family”. I appreciate the power of support from a personal standpoint but also a professional one. It becomes infused in everything I do.”
Until T1D is cured, Jackie is dedicated to how she can help make life with T1D better, both for the greater community and at home.
Do you have a greatest supporter? Someone who helps you through all of the highs and lows of life with T1D? Join the discussion on TypeOneNation.org and head over to JDRF.org/MyGreatestSupporter to download our photo filter and share your story on social media!
Thank you to Jackie for all of her advocacy work and to Lilly Diabetes, a JDRF National Partner since 1997 that has donated more than $12 million to JDRF.