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Independence Day: Putting People First

EMT Sara Fant on the role diabetes support has played in her life

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US DiabetesLaura Kolodjeski

The upcoming 4th of July holiday has me in a festive spirit – I’m really looking forward to much-appreciated time with family and friends at our annual party. I also love watching my daughter’s reactions to the sparklers and fireworks. For those with military ties, the holiday has another layer of meaning. To gain insight into that perspective, I talked with Sara Fant, who blogs at The Pump and the Second Hand.

Sara Fant
Sara Fant

“It’s about the people”

Holidays like Independence Day have special meaning for Sara. “There is an added personal note to Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day for me because I know the people and the sacrifices they make every day,” she said. “Just having that personal experience really adds another layer of emotion for the day. Definitely for me it’s about the people, not only the people serving, but also the people left behind, having to figure out how to do life without a portion of their family.”

It’s important to celebrate each day, said Sara. “Celebrate where we are today as a country,” she said. “Celebrate the fact that this is our life now and come together for that purpose of celebration. I think it’s important to acknowledge and honor the people involved, who have made that decision to serve our country. Remembering what we did to get here is a huge part of Independence Day, for me.”

Working in emergency services

The idea of helping people is what drew Sara to the medical field. “I love helping people in a practical way,” she said. “I enjoy being that calm voice in a chaotic situation, and having the knowledge and being prepared to try to affect the situation in a positive way.”

Sara believes growing up in a military family, as well as living with diabetes, helped prepare her for this line of work. “My life in the military has given me the ability to be flexible and to not react in crazy situations when plans go out the window,” she said. “As a military kid, you just learn to roll with the punches and go wherever you need to go. Being a diabetic, I feel like I am better able to understand my diabetic patients, because I have been through it myself.”

Two of Sara’s co-workers are also able to relate, as they live with type 1 diabetes as well. Sara finds it helpful and comforting to talk with others who understand some of her daily challenges. She also finds the example they set empowering. “Coming in to this job and seeing them doing this successfully, I thought, ‘Okay, yeah, I can do this!’” she said. “Having someone who understands the unique job environment as well as the disease is invaluable.”

Surrounded by support

With a dad in the Air Force, Sara’s family moved around a lot when she was growing up. After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, Sara saw several different endocrinologists, each assigned to her by the military. Sara enjoyed a good relationship with her first endocrinologist, who gave her a solid foundation of knowledge to be proactive in her care growing up.

Sara eventually landed at the Barbara Davis Center in Denver, traveling there from her home in Colorado Springs. “The people there are wonderful people and they have such caring hearts,” she said. “They separate your blood sugar numbers from your worth as a person. I really appreciate that. The people there make me smile every time I go in.”

Growing up, Sara did not frequently talk about her experiences with diabetes. “I did not hide it, it just was not something I offered or said anything about,” she said. “If people asked, it was generally a very short conversation.” That changed as three special people came into her life. Sara’s sister-in-law, her sister-in-law’s mother, and a friend she met while working at a summer camp all live with type 1 diabetes as well, and helped change her perspective.

“I found myself surrounded by type 1 diabetics,” she said. “Having friends and family who live with type 1 broke me out of my own little bubble and I saw there were a lot of different ways of handling diabetes. Having those three loving, supportive women around me made me more accepting of myself as a diabetic. It was through them that I realized I have things I can help people with. I have a perspective that is unique and that might help that one person who was thinking of going into a job that may not necessarily be considered safe for diabetics. I wanted to show people that you can do this.” Her blog shares her experiences working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) while living with type 1.

Throughout our conversation, I was touched by Sara’s commitment to helping others, which is obviously rooted in her experiences growing up. Talking with her helped put a very human face on holidays like Independence Day for me, as well as those who serve the community as first responders. I am grateful for their, and Sara’s, contributions. My thanks to her for sharing her insights.

Happy 4th of July!

Laura K.

Disclosure: Sara Fant received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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