Second-year Student Shares Stories of Living with T1D, Helps Promote Upcoming JDRF Walk
Second-year student Salia Richardt stands at the door of her room in Residence Hall saying hello to some nervous looking teenagers and their equally nervous parents. New students are moving into their rooms, meeting their roommates, and deciding where all of their clothes will fit. Richardt is a resident assistant on the second floor.
“It’s an awesome job if you want to expand your creativity and get to know the students,” Richardt says. “I like connecting with people, helping them, and watching them grow.”
What many won’t notice is a small device Richardt wears on her hip. It’s an insulin pump to help maintain her blood sugar. Richardt was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) when she was 12.
“Insulin pumps are not phones, pagers, or iPods,” she jokes with friends who have never seen a pump. “It is medicine, and it is important, so don’t push buttons.”
Her diagnosis pushed her toward a career in pharmacy.
“From a diabetic standpoint, pharmacists are accessible,” she says. “I had some bad experiences when I was newly diagnosed with some health care providers, and my pharmacist was really helpful. The pharmacy team understood how important my insulin was, and they made a connection with me and my family.”
Richardt is one of the student captains leading the College’s fundraising efforts for the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. This year’s St. Louis walk will be on Sunday, Oct. 6 in Forest Park. College President John A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, is the honorary walk chair.
JDRF focuses on funding research to find a cure for T1D. The charity also runs summer camps for children diagnosed with the autoimmune disease. Richardt went to camp for several years near her hometown of Evansville, Ind.
“I didn’t know anyone who had the same problem,” she says. “None of my friends knew what Type 1 diabetes was. I didn’t even know what it was.”
She found support at those camps.
“Everyone there has the same problem,” Richardt says. “The older kids could share their experiences. They don’t make you feel diabetic because they treat you normally. When you’re first diagnosed, it makes it seem like it’s limiting you when it shouldn’t.”
Richardt knows that her disease will help her relate to future patients who also deal with chronic conditions.
“It is definitely rewarding whenever you can help someone with Type 1,” she says. “Working at a pharmacy over the summer, a woman noticed my pump and asked me a lot of questions. She was not happy with using injection pens. It was a rewarding experience to relate to her situation, comfort her, and help her make a decision.”
Join Salia Richardt and others from St. Louis College of Pharmacy on Oct. 6 in Forest Park to help find a cure for T1D. Sign up for the College’s team, or make a donation here.