Saint Michael's College women's basketball rising junior Cassandra Falone (Chatham, N.J./Chatham), who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 12, was recently featured in the game day program for SLAMT1D's annual Vermont Summer Classic wiffle ball tournament in Essex. She and local high schooler Jojo fielded questions about their lives as student-athletes with type 1 diabetes. An excerpt is included below, and the entire Q&A session can be read here.
How did you find out you had diabetes?
I went to a New Jersey diner with my grandparents and had hot chocolate and chocolate chip pancakes. I went home and slept for a few hours and went to the bathroom about five times that night. I went to the doctor the next day...
Diabetes is mentally straining. I sometimes obsess over ... numbers and carbs, and eating. I have had to learn that I cannot control everything. It was extremely challenging admitting to myself that I may need help, and that this obsessive nature is not healthy. I have had to, and continue to have to, keep my mental health stable because you have diabetes 100 percent of the time and there is no taking a break from it. Sometimes it can literally drive you crazy, and you may need help staying healthy, mentally and physically.
22! My grandpa was number 22 when he played basketball in college, and my uncle and brother kept the tradition going. I now wear the number 22 at SMC. I wear number 22 for my grandpa, who absolutely loved the game.
How do you want to use diabetes in a positive way in the future?
[I want to] use my accomplishments in sports and school to show kids that they don't have to change their goals because they have diabetes, but also being honest and preparing kids for the harsh realities and challenges that come with this disease.
Best "gift" diabetes has given you?
Diabetes has taught me to connect with all types of people with all kinds of challenges without any judgment.