Roger Leasure: T1D Parent and Philanthropist

In today's interview, we talk with Roger Leasure and his four children, two of which have T1D - Roger and Olivia.  We also hear from Ava and Grant, their two siblings who do not have T1D. We get insights from the parent, sibling and patient perspective in this episode.  Additionally, Roger is heavily involved with T1D philanthropic efforts and the NorCal JDRF chapter.

Being a parent of two children who have Type-1 diabetes is a tough task, but Roger Leasure has been able to hold his own so far. Roger is a leader in JDF and has two children – Roger JR and Olivia – who each have Type-1 diabetes. The responsibility of managing his children’s diabetes, Roger says, was originally left in the hands of his former wife Selena, but from his small experience, Roger knows that managing Type-1 diabetes isn’t an easy job.

Brian spoke to the family – Roger, Roger JR, Olivia, Grant, and Eva.

Roger JR was diagnosed when he was seven years old. When the doctor told Rogers that his son had Type-1 diabetes, he was shocked and, like many parents who know nothing about Type-1 diabetes, he questioned whether he was at fault for his son having Type-1 diabetes. He was told he was not, and for a few days, Rogers JR and Selena, his former wife, were educated on how to manage the diabetes.

Rogers spoke about how he raised money for JDRF, leveraging marathon races to raise up to $20,000 for JDRF.

Olivia, Rogers’ daughter who also has Type-1 diabetes, spoke on how she was shocked when she was diagnosed, but was not worried about it too much because her elder brother lived with Type-1 diabetes too.

Olivia was diagnosed ten years after Roger JR’s diagnosis. The classic symptoms of Type-1 diabetes of drinking too much water, regularly using the restroom, and weakness occurred and indicated to her family that something might be wrong. Olivia is a soccer player, and she realized something was wrong when she fell one day during practice.

Her mom tested her, using some of Roger JR’s test kits. Olivia said she had known she had diabetes a week before she was tested by her mother. However, when she was diagnosed officially, she was happy being in the hospital because she had so many food options around her. But when the doctors told her that she’ll have to count her carb intake and do a lot of calculations to manage her Type-1 diabetes, Olivia was not so happy because she didn’t like math.

Olivia found it hard in school because some of her classmates and teachers didn’t understand what Type-1 diabetes was, and the ones who knew were not so empathic. One day, Olivia angrily walked out of a class because her teacher didn’t understand that she needed to check her blood sugar level frequently.

Olivia didn’t feel comfortable telling her teachers and friends about her diagnosis, but she soon realized that she had to tell some of her closest friends so they wouldn’t worry about her.

Olivia and Roger JR still engage in physical activities like they did before they were diagnosed, and they always ensure they pack extra supplies whenever they’re leaving for any of the numerous physical activities they do.

When asked how to support siblings with Type-1 diabetes, Grant said that supporting them always is the best way to handle the situation. Also, never tell them what to eat because it makes them angry, Grant added.

A healthy lifestyle is key to living a successful life uninhibited by Type-1 diabetes,

Olivia and Roger JR encouraged parents whose children have Type-1 diabetes to check up on them regularly and help them to manage their diabetes.