Home » ‘He has never stopped fighting for me’ — the legacy of innovative diabetes care at Barnstable Brown

‘He has never stopped fighting for me’ — the legacy of innovative diabetes care at Barnstable Brown

Photo by Arden Barnes | UKphoto

LEXINGTON, Ky. — “Just like any other parent who out of nowhere their child is suddenly ill, it pretty much takes your breath away. It is not something you know how to fix,” remembers Cindy Farmer.

At just 11 years old, Cindy and Mike Farmer’s daughter, Leslie, was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I didn’t know what diabetes meant,” said Leslie. “I thought I’d never be able to eat sweets again, ‘I won’t be able to be physically active … I wanted to be a cheerleader, and that I won’t be able to have kids,’ I was 11 years old and that is what I was thinking — I will never get to have kids, I’m not going to be normal anymore.”

As Leslie and her family began navigating this new journey, they relied on UK HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center for guidance. In fact, Leslie’s doctor from the very beginning is still her doctor today.

“I’ve now known Leslie for about 20 years. It is a great honor and privilege to be able to participate in these patients’ lives and to see them grow up to be successful and healthy,” said Jackson Smith, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at UK HealthCare.

Leslie remembers, during her early care, having to do three shots a day and checking her blood sugar a minimum of four times a day with finger sticks.

“During those first couple of years, insurance did not cover test strips,” said Cindy. “They were expensive. It was half of our house payment, and it is not like you can go without them … you must have them.”

That is one of the many reasons Smith is thankful for the immense changes he has seen in the field throughout his 40-year career. UK HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center has been at the forefront of many of the advancements and the center continues its dedication to providing their patients with the best care, education and support available.

“A hundred years ago, before the discovery of insulin, Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence,” said Simon Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., acting director of the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. “Our center is probably best known for its clinical enterprise, but we are so much more than that. From the basic science all the way through to clinical trials and interventions, as well as implementation science.”

When patients like Leslie come to the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, they receive the most up-to-date information and technology. “Because of all this research done here, I have two devices that work together and allow me to live a basically normal life as if I didn’t have diabetes,” Leslie said.

Leslie remembers growing up and longing to be a wife and a mom one day. “That was what I wanted for my life,” she said. But her mom says that chapter certainly brought mixed emotions.

“It is a happy moment to say, ‘I’m going to have a baby,’” Cindy said. “But I was scared to death because I knew it would be risky.”

Leslie was considered high-risk because of her diabetes, and the team at Barnstable Brown took care of her throughout the entire pregnancy.

“Every fear I had was put to ease. So, when my son was born, being able to achieve that and have this beautiful kid, he is the best thing I have ever done and ever will do,” said Leslie. “I now know what my parents felt when this monumental thing happened in my life and theirs.”

Thanks to the generosity of people like the Barnstable Brown family, the center can provide world-class care for patients and their families. “There is a commitment to diabetes research and taking care of people with diabetes,” said Fisher. “Because of this research, because of these innovations, treating people with diabetes is much better than ever.”

“What I am most grateful for is that I still have my daughter, I have an amazing grandson. We can be thankful for that because of the care she’s gotten,” said Cindy.

Leslie, who serves countless other children and families as a principal in Madison County, now knows that a diabetes diagnosis does not mean the end of life as you know it as long as you take care of yourself and have a team of support.

“My care has been so good my whole life because I’ve been here with people who have known me forever. If it weren’t for Barnstable Brown, I don’t know where I would go,” said Leslie. “Dr. Smith has been here from day one. All he has ever wanted is for diabetes to go away. So he has never stopped fighting for me and thousands of others.”

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