Hi, I’m Joanna! Born and raised in Ottawa, I now call Toronto my home. I’m passionate about health and fitness, PR/communications, all things food, travel and family!
When were you diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and can you share a little about what that was like?
On March 16, 1998, I vividly remember looking down at my bruised arms where two IVs dripped into my veins to help bring my blood glucose levels back into a normal range. Nearby machines beeped relentlessly. Doctors and nurses gathered around. I had been rushed to the hospital ER from a family vacation, where I was immediately diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). I was also told we were lucky we came when we did. It was a moment that will be ingrained in my memory forever.
Over the next week, the hospital became my home—as well as my family’s—where we learned how to manage my newly diagnosed condition. Those early days laid the foundation for my journey with T1D, teaching me that while diabetes is a part of me, it doesn’t define me.
How has fitness impacted your daily management?
Being active and incorporating fitness into my life has been a game-changer for my overall T1D management. The routine of exercise—the planning, the commitment, the follow-through—it all strengthens my resolve to manage my T1D with intention. With every movement, I’m reinforcing habits that keep me on track: monitoring my blood levels, adjusting insulin, being mindful of my eating.
But it’s more than that. It’s about the mornings I wake up feeling unstoppable and the evenings I go to bed knowing I’ve done something good for myself. This positive feeling spills over into other areas of my life, making me a more focused, more present individual. In a way, managing T1D with the help of fitness is one of the best ways to take care of myself.
Can you share what has impacted your daily management the most?
Honestly, my daily management got a lot brighter when I started using a continuous glucose monitor. I can see what’s happening with my blood glucose levels in real time, and it means I can live my life with a lot less stress about my diabetes. I’m forever grateful for the advancements in diabetes technology—it’s come a long way since my diagnosis.
(Learn more about JDRF’s advocacy program to ensure universal access to diabetes devices like advanced glucose monitors here: https://www.jdrf.ca/advocacy/access-for-all/)
Why is supporting the T1D community so important to you?
There’s something profoundly human about being part of the T1D community. It’s a place of courage, resilience, and an unspoken understanding that we’re all in this together. Living with T1D can be isolating, as I quickly learned after my diagnosis. As soon as I found a support system, my life, and my outlook living with T1D completely changed. It’s a community of hearts and hands ready to catch you, lift you, and celebrate with you. That’s what being part of the T1D tribe is all about and I want to give back to this incredible community as much as I can.
Anything else you would like to share with the T1D community?
At the end of the day, T1D has been my greatest teacher in life. Living with this chronic condition for 26 years has taught me to listen to my body better than ever before, it’s encouraged me to be patient—especially on the tough days, and it’s proven that I’m strong and can conquer anything, even when people have doubted me. I’ve completed several triathlons and cycling races, have traveled solo overseas numerous times and have lived and worked abroad. Accomplishing these goals, and many more, has proven that nothing’s off limits.
My advice to those living with T1D: Your T1D has shaped your life, and, it has inevitably developed your resilience, sense of independence and confidence along the way. Don’t let it prevent you from living life on your terms. With the right attitude, you can conquer anything you put your mind to.
You can follow Joanna on her Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/joannamariefit/
Learn more about JDRF’s support services to connect the T1D community: https://www.jdrf.ca/support