Joslin Moments: 80-Year Medal

Spencer Wallace, the first 80-Year Medalist

On May 11, 2013 the first 80-Year Medal was awarded at Joslin. The medal was designed earlier in 2013 for those who reach the incredible milestone of living with diabetes for 80 years. Over the decades since insulin was discovered, improved treatment on many fronts has significantly increased the life expectancy of insulin-dependent patients.

Focusing on patient care and education to minimize long-tern complications, in 1948 the Joslin Clinic began awarding medals to people who had lived with diabetes for 25 years. Joslin subsequently created awards to mark each milestone (25 years, 50 years, 75 Years, and 80 Years living with diabetes) as an increasing number of people with diabetes gained greater health and longevity. The accomplishment of reaching 80 years with diabetes is truly an amazing milestone. The need for perseverance is outlined by this quote from Dr. Joslin:

 “There is no disease which understanding by the patient… avails much. Brains count… but knowledge alone will not save the diabetic. This is a disease which tests the character of the patient, and for success in withstanding it, in addition to wisdom, he must possess honesty, self-control, and courage.” –Dr. Elliott P. Joslin

Ultimately, the medals awarded by the Joslin Diabetes Center are both an honor and incentive; an impetus for patients to care for their health so they are afforded the greatest chance to succeed with their disease. The course of the Joslin Medalist Program is entwined in the story of insulin’s discovery, the drastic change of fate for those with the disease, and the continued effort of the medical community to prevent and cure diabetes. At the biannual Joslin Medalist ceremony in April 2017, two more 80-Year Medals were awarded—bringing the grand total to 11 recipients of the 80-Year Medal.


  1. Congratulations to Spencer! Your photo shows that you know and are using one of the secrets to success. Keep that twinkle in your eyes!
    Hello to Stephanie and Sara, too.

  2. And I love Spencer’s smile-you need that with diabetes. As we all know in living with Type 1 that , sometimes, as hard as you try, you just have say to yourself ” why did that happen”, and then laugh, smile and keep on going!

  3. Sincere congratulations to Spencer on living with Type 1 for 80 years. Hard work and determination pay off, and kudo’s to his wonderful supportive family.

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