“I do not remember a time in my life when diabetes was not a part of my life.”
For as long as she can remember, Sandy Marcowitz has had diabetes. But that initial diagnosis in May 1953, instead of holding her back given her the drive to live every day to its fullest. This zest for life has amazed everyone around her and has clearly illustrated that a full, rewarding life is possible regardless of diabetes.
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A large part of this drive came from Sandy’s parents, who instilled in her the belief that she could do anything she wanted to, regardless of her medical condition. It wasn’t until much later in life that Sandy realized just how difficult this must have been for her family. She didn’t understand the effort needed to keep life calm on the surface, with all the negotiating and advocating for her with the rest of the world was going on behind the scenes.
“Back then,” Sandy notes, “the world was very, very different—with less understanding, less technology, less information, and zero sugar-free products.” Despite these issues, Sandy’s parents constantly told her that she “could do anything anyone else did with just a few accommodations,” said Sandy.
Unlike many young people of her generation, Sandy’s pediatrician not only recognized her symptoms but with the assistance of her parents was able to successfully manage her diabetes. In fact, Sandy’s initial connection with Joslin Diabetes Center came directly as a result of this success. When she was approaching her 50th year of living with diabetes, her endocrinologist recommended Joslin’s Medalist Program.
The Medalist Program, open to anyone who has lived with insulin-dependent diabetes for 50 years or more, intrigued her since it represented an opportunity “to meet and be with other people who had lived life as I had and who understood the nature of the beast,” she said. This interest was confirmed after attending the Medalist receptions where she was able to interact and discuss the latest research and receive inspiration from others. In addition to meeting other Medalists, Sandy also participated in Joslin’s clinical research studies—giving back to the larger community in a very personal way.
Recently, Sandy made the decision to further support Joslin with a gift from her estate. When she was meeting with her lawyer regarding her estate plans, Sandy didn’t know about the Priscilla White Society or any of the other benefits Joslin offers to those who have made a legacy gift. Sandy simply thought that Joslin was the best place to give a gift that will support advances in technology and research.
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Although hopeful for a cure, Sandy feels that part of her legacy will be a step in the right direction towards a better world for people with diabetes, saying “I don’t want a young person who is diagnosed with diabetes to have to go through what I did when I was first diagnosed.”
Sandy wants her planned gift to invest in the future of diabetes research and she is excited that Joslin is in the forefront of those efforts. As part of her legacy, Sandy has restricted her gift because she feels that increasing support in this area will lead towards her dream of a world free of diabetes. Sandy feels very strongly that “if we as diabetics don’t support research ourselves, how can we expect the general public to support these efforts?”
Because of Sandy’s thoughtful legacy, the groundbreaking work being done at Joslin will continue to advance our understanding of this disease, leading to a better quality of life—and perhaps one day to a cure.
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“To anyone else facing similar issues, all I can say is live a full life, take whatever comes,” Sandy says. “Go one day at a time.”