Valley Press Staff Writer
(Photos by Jennefier Hernandez)
Diabetes certainly won’t defeat the spirit of 8-year-old Erin Hanson.
diagnosed with the condition a year ago, the youngster has taken control of her
life, said her father, Jon Hanson. Part
of that control involves injecting herself with insulin shots at least three
times a day and testing her blood sugar four or more times daily, as she
demonstrated when her family stopped in
having control,” said
Though the disease hasn’t hampered her social life, Erin and her parents acknowledged some changes were unavoidable.
“We have to think ahead,” said her mother, Kathleen Hanson. “We can never leave the house without her diabetes bag, she continued, referring to the equipment required to keep a handle on the disease.
“We always have the think about the time and her schedule, coordinating (activities) around insulin shots and blood tests,” her father added.
Of course, the youngster learned to cope with certain food restrictions, and her entire family, including sister Emily, 11, and brother Ian, 4, support her.
taught us a lot about the human body and diet,” said her father, a law
Her Mother said she eats more protein and slower-acting carbohydrates – old-fashioned oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta and “lots of fruits.”
occasions the family breaks from their disciplined regimen, like on
The Hansons celebrated
As Kathleen and Jon Hanson headed west, they set three main goals for their trip. They hoped to raise public awareness about a possible breakthrough in diabetes research. They also viewed their travels as a vehicle for educating their children, who are home-schooled. Plus, they considered the journey a source of recreation and fun for the entire family.
currently on sabbatical from Harvard, said within the last year researchers at
“There’s good reason to believe the same will be true in humans,” Jon Hanson said.
However, further research must be conducted before doctors can implement the procedure on humans. And funding is needed for a clinical trial, according to Lynne Murphy, administrative assistant to Dr. Denise Faustman, the lead researcher.
But human trials required deep pockets. Jon Hanson estimated the research would cost between $10 million and $12 million.
“As a parent, I felt I could not sit back and do nothing, Kathleen Hanson said. So she and her family took to the road.
While spreading the word about the importance of diabetes research, the family has visited numerous national parks, where the children participated in the junior ranger programs. They learned the significance of respecting and protecting nature, to be “good stewards of he environment,” as Kathleen Hanson put it.
“We were walking through ancient riverbeds,” her sister, Emily, interjected.
“I love seeing new things, meeting new people.”
“We met cowboys,” Emily said.
encountered fascinating people between the east and west coasts, during their
For more information, visit the family website at www.hansonjourney.com.