In Guest Writer

Alexi MelvinAlexi is a writer, actor, artist, reiki master and Disney Parks enthusiast. She has been a freelance journalist for The San Francisco Chronicle and most recently a Staff Writer for Beyond Type 1. She also serves as Chair of Beyond Type 1’s Leadership Council’s Content Committee. In addition to her dedication to being a voice for people living with T1D everywhere, she has always been passionate about meditation and energy healing. Before getting her Bachelor of Arts degree at The New School University, she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute. If you listen (super) closely, you might be able to catch her voice in a couple of the recent Star Wars films. She hopes to continue her healing work, and to connect with other T1Ds through her travels and writing opportunities.

“Who do you want to be?” 

“What do you want to do with your life?”

These are things that are typically beginning to run through a 14-year-old sophomore in high school’s head. They were certainly on my mind when I was 14 — the age when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

In a way, instead of being able to choose for myself what I wanted to define me or not define me, I felt as though some biological force beyond my control decided for me. I was henceforth to be known as “that girl with diabetes.” It would be the first thing that people remembered when they thought of me.Alexi Melvin

 At first, I thought all of this was entirely unfair. I felt confused and cheated out of so many other things that I might have been. I remember sitting out of many P.E. class activities for fear of going low constantly. I was too afraid to participate in drama club because I didn’t want to have to excuse myself while onstage to go and check my blood sugar.

Well, first off — I was wrong on both counts. I could have done anything I wanted to do. And I did wind up doing a lot of those things as time went on. I wound up trying and failing at a lot more of them! But Type 1 diabetes was never the reason for any failure or doubt.

The realization that Type 1 diabetes was and is a part of me, yet does not define me, was the key to finding my strength. 

 I act, I write stories, I paint and I play the drums. Perhaps I haven’t reached a veteran status with any of those endeavors like I once hoped, but it’s not because I missed out on my destiny, it’s because something greater was staring at me right in the face — and that “something” took the form of stepping into a larger role in the T1D community.

Alexi Melvin I have been an advocate for Type 1 diabetes awareness from the get-go. Of course, I wasn’t ever thrilled about having an autoimmune disease, and it certainly stunted my being able to fully embrace my identity for a while, but I always knew that I wanted to connect with others who could relate to what I was experiencing, and hopefully to one day inspire others who were struggling with it in their own ways. 

 My advocacy path eventually guided me to Beyond Type 1, a community that brings together people with T1D in new and innovative ways. I began writing freelance for them, telling my own personal stories as well as helping other T1Ds to share their own. I think that, as many things that interested me over the years, all of them had one common denominator: empowerment. 

“Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease made me feel disempowered in many ways. There were suddenly elements of my life that I couldn’t control as closely as I would have liked, which trickled down into an overall feeling of hopelessness. Regaining the feeling of empowerment, even if it was simply finding it in small ways each day, brought me back to life.”

I am now surrounded by people that empower each other every day. This same idea is why The Human Trial means so much to me. This is a real story that follows vastly different people that are all taking bravery and innovation to an entirely new level in the Type 1 diabetes community. 

Alexi Melvin

The Human Trial, I believe, will shed some profoundly important light. It will show the world what has been going on behind the scenes — what kind ofwork is being done in order to give us our cure. When I think about the idea of finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes one day, I think of all of the tireless work that the scientific community has put in within the Type 1 realm going back many years. It would be easy to see a cure as some sort of pipe dream, but as quickly as advancements have been moving in the last handful of years, I see it as a very real thing.

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