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A California high schooler has penned a new book of poetry that shares her story of life with type 1 diabetes since age 1, and how she’s hoping to channel that experience into a career once she’s out of school.

Jamie Kurtzig’s new book called Onederland: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes contains 100 poems she’s written over the past decade, and the 15-year-old tells DiabetesMine that about a number of those poems are specifically about T1D.

Jamie Kurtzig

She says her disease onset 14 years ago was a familiar story — including vomiting, extreme thirst, frequent urination, lack of appetite, and fatigue. But being just a baby, she wasn’t able to communicate her feelings in words, so her parents were confused and frankly terrified of what might be happening.

The diagnosis came, and that began what she dubs her “Type Onederful” life with this condition. She recalls watching her parents attend “fun” diabetes-themed events and fundraisers, which she didn’t think was fair because she was the one living with T1D.

Then, about six years ago, they all worked together to create an annual family-friendly gala in California supporting the local JDRF San Francisco chapter and named it the “Royal Ball.” It has raised $1 million to date. In 2018, Jamie earned an invite to be the “fund-a-cure” guest speaker at the chapter’s Hope Gala — which she describes as one of the “happiest days of my life.” That year, she and her family raised an additional $2.8 million.

Jamie also took part in the JDRF Children’s Congress in mid-2019 and is now sharing her D-story as a writer over at diaTribe.

She began writing poetry at age 5, and says she’s proud to be following through with a long-time dream of publishing a book.

“I fell in love with how I can use poetry to convey my thoughts, ideas, feelings, and life story,” she says. “I then combined my T1D and poetry passions by writing poems about life with T1D.”

She recalls one day noticing that her “special bin” at home was filled up with countless poems she’d written. That’s when the idea hit of compiling them into a packet for her grandmother, as a gift.

It all culminated with those poems being turned into an actual book, published in October 2019.

One of Jamie’s favorite diabetes-focused poems is about her desire to see a T1D cure in her lifetime. A few verses from that poem read:

“Wanting a cure for Type 1 Diabetes”

like getting second place

when I worked so hard to get first

like arriving on time at the airport and realizing the flight is delayed.

All of the proceeds for the paperback book are being donated to diabetes non-profits pursuing research, including JDRF and The diaTribe Foundation.

“Throughout these past 14 years, I have experienced many advances in technology, switching from 12-plus daily finger sticks and shots to insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to closed-loop systems,” Jamie says. “I hope that (my book) helps improve the lives of all with T1D, gives a glimpse into my life, inspires others to follow their passion, and helps find a cure,” she says.

Jamie’s 150-page poetry book is available on Amazon for $12.95 in paperback form, as well as at Barnes & Noble, and local Bay Area bookstore Book Passage.

But before you go out and buy, here’s your chance to win a free copy…

Interested in winning a free copy of Jamie Kurtzig’s “Type Onederland” bookof poetry? We’re thrilled that the author has agreed to give away a free copy to a lucky winner. Here’s how to enter:

1. Email us at info@diabetesmine.com with “DM-PoetryBook” somewhere in the subject line to let us know you’re hoping to win. Or you can ping us on Twitter or our Facebook page using the same codeword. (For shipping purposes, we must limit the giveaway to those with mailing addresses within the United States.)

2. You have until Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at 5pm PST to enter.

3. The winners will be chosen using Random.org.

4. Winners will be announced on Monday, Jan. 20, via social media, so please be sure to keep tabs on your email and/or Facebook/Twitter messenger box, as that’s how we contact our winners. (If winners don’t respond within a week, we select an alternate.)

We’ll update this post with the winners names once chosen.

Best of luck to all you poetry lovers out there!

This contest is now closed. Congrats to the winner!