Q&A: How A Pageant Winner Overcame her Urge to Hide A Diabetes Diagnosis

Q&A: How A Pageant Winner Overcame her Urge to Hide a Diabetes Diagnosis

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The idea of trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis is familiar to one of my new friends, Bek. As a child, she tried to hide having type 1. The struggles she faced were scary and sometimes life threatening. But she has shown incredible perseverance and is now helping others because of what she went through.

Today she is a wife, mom, beauty pageant winner, and diabetes advocate with a heart of gold. I’m excited to share her story with you today.

Bek and her husband Barrett at a JDRF event
Bek and her husband (and #1 supporter) Barrett.

The Initial Diabetes Diagnosis

You were almost 11 years old when you were initially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. What do you remember about your diagnosis?

Honestly, I only have flashes of my diagnosis. I was basically a very difficult child with mood swings that wouldn’t listen to anything my mom said.

I remember one specific trip to the mall with my mom and my sister, Rachel. We stopped at McDonald’s, and I ordered a sweet tea with my lunch. I was given my sweet tea, and before we got around the building, I had finished it and asked for another. My mom took note of this. She noticed frequent urination and constant thirst, too.

I remember hearing my mom on the phone with the doctor. And the next thing I knew, I was at the hospital for a fasting blood sugar test. Grumpily waiting for my results, the doctor came out and spoke with my mom. I was then in the hospital for a week after that with injections for high blood sugar levels, finger pricks with blood glucose meters, IV’s trying to hydrate me, and learning how to treat low blood sugar and inject oranges with saline so we knew how to give insulin injections.

Responding to a Diabetes Diagnosis

How did you handle the news of your diagnosis?

I held a lot of anger for many years toward my diagnosis and my new life and the lifestyle changes I needed to make for diabetes. One evening as my dad was saying good night, I asked him “why me?” I’m sure I asked this question many times out loud, as I know I had carried this question with me for 22 years, but that particular night I remember adding, “why not Rachel?” Looking back, I’m mortified that I would even utter the thought because I would never wish this disease upon anyone.

How did your parents respond to your diagnosis?

I feel like my dad was very matter-of-fact about the diagnosis, as if to say, “it is what it is and now we manage it.” He was very helpful with my calculations and injections when I was first diagnosed in particular.

My mom was terrified. She thought God was going to heal me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I full heartedly believe in the power of prayer. But looking back now, I know that God had a purpose for adding T1D to my story.

Going to School with Type 1

What do you remember about returning to school after your diagnosis?

In my small town, everyone knew I was diabetic. But man, did I hate being different! The school made me wear a medical alert bracelet, which I despised because I felt I was being labeled. The referees at the game used to yell at me about wearing the bracelet like it was a gem so they had me wrap it with tape. It was a constant battle.

Also, it was the school rule while I was playing in games, or even at practices doing any sort of physical activity, that I couldn’t be on the field or on the court without a guardian present, just in case anything happened. I was a liability in their eyes, even if I had a normal blood sugar level, and the school didn’t want the responsibility.

I had more freedom in high school. But again, everyone in my high school knew I was diabetic, although they never really had a clue of what my life was really like. That’s not necessarily their fault because I simply shrugged it off like it was no big deal. I acted like I could handle it.

Bek and her dog, Fidget.
Bek and her dog, Fidget.

Trying to Hide a Diabetes Diagnosis

What kinds of things did you do to try to hide the fact that you had diabetes?

Once I went to dinner at a friend’s house. Hating to do my injections in front of people, I forgot to take my insulin prior to dinner. So after eating, I immediately excused myself and ran to the bathroom to take my insulin shot. Their mom came knocking on the door to ensure I was ok. That poor woman still probably thinks I had an eating disorder on top of diabetes.

During my freshman year, I overdosed my insulin right before bed. A close friend of mine called my parents, and they immediately brought me orange juice and monitored me through the night to make sure I was in normal range. My mom didn’t know how to handle this, and I spent a couple of weeks in a rehab trying to ensure my safety.

Why She Tried to Hide a Diabetes Diagnosis

Looking back now, why do you think you tried to hide your diabetes diagnosis? Do you wish you had reacted differently?

I hated the thought of being different than literally everyone else I knew. And I hated being treated differently. I hated that I couldn’t be “normal.” And it didn’t help that a lot of people were super grossed out by me having to take an insulin shot or prick my finger to check my glucose.

If I could’ve wrapped my mind around the fact that my diagnosis was literally life or death and the seriousness behind that, I would have reacted differently. I think I had convinced myself that there was no happy ending for me and I simply couldn’t grasp the full picture.

Yes, I absolutely wish that I had reacted differently. I wish I had advocated for my life and my right to be safe regardless of people’s reactions or school rules. But I had no self-love, self-care; I felt no self-worth. I was always seeking someone else’s validation and diabetes simply couldn’t be apart of the picture. That’s what I told myself anyway. So I pushed myself past every limit telling myself that I was fine.

The Mental Strain of Having Diabetes

How do you now view the mental strain of diabetes and the importance of self-care?

Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t stop with diagnosis. T1D affects every aspect of your life every minute of every day for the rest of your life.

I could stick to a super balanced diet of healthy meals, eating the same exact thing every single day, maintaining a healthy weight, and still never having two days alike. It’s truly exhausting. Add in, changing my pod every 3 days and my CGM every 10 days. Making sure I always have spares on hand. Enough insulin in my kit. Calculating the exact amount of insulin I’ll need for 3 days without running out or wasting more than a unit or two.

And it’s not just me. Our kids know that diabetes could kill me. My husband Barrett is always ensuring he has the job that offers decent health benefits, even when he’s miserable in his career. And with that, I’m a burden again. Without God, the mentality behind it can be way too much far too often.

Taking care of yourself in general is SO important. Take a walk, read a good book, surround yourself with good people, get your nails/hair done, go shopping/window shopping, whatever it is that provides YOU time – do it. I cannot put enough emphasis on this. I now realize self care needs to be non-negotiable.

The Role of Rest with a Chronic Illness
3 Ways to Avoid Diabetes Burnout woman. Pictured: woman with her head down on a desk
how to find strength in weakness, pictured: young girl laying on a couch with her arm over her eyes

If you or someone you know is struggling with diabetes, please contact your health care provider for options to find the help and emotional support you need and deserve!

A Shift in Perspective on Diabetes

What happened in 2013 that started to change your perspective on diabetes?

After a miscarriage in 2013, I found a fundraiser walk for unborn babies that I wanted to join. I did that walk solo but I had called my sister to see if she’d do it with me. She said, “find one for diabetes, and I’ll do it with you.” Challenge accepted!

A quick google search later and I found JDRF’s OneWalk for 2013. That was our first year getting involved and yes, Rachel walked with us. Our group ranged from age 2 to 78 that year and we raised almost $3,000. I was proud to be doing something for Type 1, although I didn’t have a clue as to what exactly we were raising money for or what JDRF was all about at the time.

Showing up on walk day and seeing hundreds, if not a thousand people there was unbelievably overwhelming. And for the first time in 13 years, I realized I wasn’t alone. I no longer thought I needed to hide my diabetes diagnosis.

How have you gotten more and more involved with JDRF since the 2013 walk?

We have continued to participate in the OneWalk. Then in the 2018 walk, I was asked to participate in live interviews prior to the event.

In 2019, Barrett and I were invited to volunteer at the OneNight Gala and had the honor to speak as well.

And in 2022, Barrett and I went to the TypeOne Nation Summit held annually in Boston. We also had our first OneWalk as our new chapter: Greater New England.

Bek's first JDRF Walk team in 2013 after no longer trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis
Another of Bek's JDRF Walk teams after no longer trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis

A New Outlook on Life with Diabetes

What happened in 2022 that changed your outlook on life with diabetes?

In September 2022, my family and I were outside prepping firewood for the upcoming season. We were just a couple of weeks away from our annual OneWalk. I had run back inside for something – in my bedroom, I “heard” – I gave you this mountain because I knew you were strong enough to handle it and I knew you’d be willing to make a difference. YOU ARE READY.

I had no idea what this meant or what was coming but I finally had my answer to the question I had been asking since I was 10 years old. I went back outside holding an ax and I snapped a picture with the caption “T1D might be my disability but I don’t let it hold me back.”

Four months later, I became the JDRF Maine State Advocacy Team Chair. And another month after that, I was invited to join the USOA Maine State Pageant running for Mrs. Maine 2024. All along, God had a plan – all I had to do was trust Him.

Bek's trip to Washington DC to advocate for people with diabetes.
Bek's trip to Washington DC to advocate for people with diabetes, along with her husband Barrett.

A Visit to Washington DC

Since then, God has provided you with so many opportunities to encourage others with diabetes. Can you tell me about your trip to DC?

In March 2023, Barrett and I went on our first advocacy trip to Washington DC, and I was able to share my story with our house representatives and our senate. After our meetings, I was contacted by Senator Collins’ staff with the request to share my story on the senate floor.

The trip itself and the opportunity alone was super exciting. I had nerves I didn’t even know existed, but I was SO ready to make an impact and finally following my purpose.

Arriving in DC was like arriving at our first OneWalk – seeing the amount of people from all across the country, showing up to advocate for diabetes was once again, unbelievably overwhelming. And once again, I knew I was right where I was meant to be.

Bek poses for a photo at a local beauty pageant, wearing her Dexcom CGM and Omnipod insulin pump.
Bek in a beauty pageant, wearing her Dexcom CGM and Omnipod insulin pump.

Participating in the Miss Maine Pageant with Type 1

In 2023, you participated in the USOA Miss Maine Pageant. What was that like?

Overwhelming joy is what comes to mind first. I was SO proud of all the women! The nine months leading up to the actual pageant weekend surrounded me with an incredible community of empowering and uplifting women that are really great friends of mine now.

I personally never went into it for the crown. The one thing I wanted to share with others is that it’s ok to be different. You were made to do great things because of your differences. Because I had spent years in hiding and realized how many times I could’ve died because of it, and all the struggles I held deep within and simply carried solo, I didn’t want that for anyone else.

So, my goal, even if I only reached one person, was to encourage people to step out of the hiding and near-death experiences. Even living with a life-threatening disease, we can still do extraordinary things to make a difference. You are not alone!

Diabetes on Pageant Night

It was such an honor stepping out on that stage the night of the pageant. I knew so many of the people in the audience and my “cheer team” took up a whole section and simply brought out the best in me. Also, I had a team of amazing women behind the scenes carrying my controller/sugar pouches – monitoring my every moment. I knew the adrenaline was going to ramp me up, but I allowed that for a while as I didn’t want to crash on stage.

I was called into the top five for the Mrs. Maine division and I couldn’t believe it! That was just nothing that I had imagined. It was an indescribable experience and, truly, leaving that night with a plaque for the Mrs. Maine 2024 Fourth Runner Up was more than I had dreamed of.

I am honored and excited to share that I have resigned my contract as Mrs. Chelsea 2024 and will be running for Mrs. Maine 2025 in October.

Bek as Mrs. Chelsea posing for a photo with her T:Slim pump clipped to her shirt. She is no longer trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis.

A New Chapter to Help Others Not Try to Hide a Diabetes Diagnosis

Now that you have turned the corner in your openness about having diabetes, you are on a new mission. Can you tell me about that?

The night before I left for pageant weekend, I took our daughter to gymnastics. There was another little girl there that is in the same class who also has Type 1. I had been watching her for the past few months and had one encounter with her. During this particular class though, I could “feel” someone watching me when I pulled out my controller for my pod and made an adjustment. Curiosity. So, I turned and sparked up a conversation with a girl in her early teens asking “who are you here supporting” – I find that she’s there for the little girl who is Type One & she recognized my “equipment” – all came full circle.

During that conversation, I found that the little girl manages T1D well. But she hates when people ask about her insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I immediately had a smack to the face moment because I was that person. But in that moment, I realized my why and what I wanted to do moving forward.

I’m starting an outreach program for newly diagnosed or those who are newly accepting of their diagnosis. My goal is to encourage them to be open because we were Made for More than T1D.

Partnering with the JDRF, we have been working on this venture for the past few months. We are taking a spin off their outreach program that is in place to see what God brings into light. I’m excited for the launch very soon.

For those who Want to Hide a Diabetes Diagnosis

What would you say to someone who is struggling with trying to hide their diagnosis from others?

My short answer is don’t. I’ve had many bad experiences because I’ve pushed myself to far, too many near-death experiences. I felt like it was my cross to bear.

  • It’s your life and you’re worth being open about your struggles.
  • The pressure of always trying to keep everything under wraps is unbelievable. It’s so overwhelming, it can cause mental health issues along with many other physical health issues.
  • Opening up and sharing not only frees you, but also frees the one that your story reaches.

In this case, sharing really is caring. Trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis won’t get you anywhere. Sharing our stories allows the opportunity for God to work through us and through our stories to reach others and bring hope where hope has been lost. We all deserve the opportunity to lead a healthy life with diabetes.

How have you seen God at work in and through you, even with this chronic illness?

Through my darkest days, God never left my side. He allowed me experiences where I learned humility, patience, trust, pure joy, real love for myself and others. I learned understanding, perspective, and ultimately, my redemption.

Nothing looks like it did even a few years ago. God has redeemed it all. I have a story of unending grace and unconditional love. And because He allowed me to go through the darkness but saved my life, I am able to share with countless others who have gone through similar things and crossed paths with mine.

Bek as Mrs. Chelsea posing for a photo with her T:Slim pump clipped to her shirt. She is no longer trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis.

Bek is a wife and mama of two, a full-time accountant, a health and wellness consultant, and the USOA Maine State Delegate. Having God at the center of her life, she has overcome struggles with type 1 like trying to hide a diabetes diagnosis. She is passionate about the work she does to volunteer as much of her time in as many different ways as possible to help support the diabetes community. 


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Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

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