Wendy Henderson Novak’s life demonstrates that it is possible to live a long, healthy and active life with Type 1 diabetes. Her life also reveals the experience of growing up with a disease that impacts not only the physical well-being of a child but also their social and emotional health.
Wendy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 7 and has lived with the disease for more than 60 years. Her father, Jack, also had type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes) and as a child was one of the first people to receive insulin treatment. She remembers crying after receiving her diagnosis, feeling a great deal of disappointment that she would have to learn how to give herself shots and wondering what her life would look like.
While she was a self-described “sickly kid,” she never believed that diabetes could or should hold her back in life. Being self-sufficient in diabetes care was drilled into her at a young age. Wendy remembers practicing giving herself insulin shots with oranges, boiling syringes, and using a whetstone to sharpen them. From a very young age, as she shockingly watched friends at a diabetes camp struggle with their conditions, she knew she wanted to help other kids with diabetes thrive and be independent. Today, that spirit endures at Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute.
Wendy believes that all children with diabetes should have access to the latest and greatest in technology and education so that they can be independent and have control over their condition and lives. Part of independence depends on the whole family’s ability to support the child with the necessary tools and education in order to live an active and healthy life.
The Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute was Wendy’s vision — she wanted to create a renowned diabetes center to provide services and support to patients and families so they could live life to the fullest. Just as she was taught to take control of her diabetes from the start, the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute is a place to give children with diabetes life-changing experiences, empowering each of them to take control of their own unique journeys.
Wendy knows there is a cure for diabetes today –– and she wants the center bearing her name to be a part of its discovery.
If you want to learn more or be a part of this life-changing work, check out our Make A Difference page.
Jack Henderson was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4. He lived until age 72, partly due to correct education and management of his condition. In honor of his life, a portion of the Novak family donation to the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation funded the creation of an endowment that supports the Jack Henderson Chair of Pediatric Endocrinology and Jack and Wendy’s Place in the Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute inpatient unit at Norton Children’s Hospital.