Her struggles with diabetes nearly claimed her life. She hopes sharing her stories will help people prevail.

Posted at 6:07 PM, Mar 23, 2023

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- A Prince George County woman is using her personal journey with type 1 diabetes to inspire teens on that same path.

"It was definitely a journey," said Ariel Brown, who recently published a book called "Pumped 4 My Journey".

Brown said she was diagnosed with the disease when she was 12 and it was a diagnosis she struggled with.

"You think about 12 years old. You're about to be a teenager. I really thought I was dying. I didn't know what diabetes was. The only reason why I knew about it, because I used to watch The Baby-Sitters Club," Brown said as one of the characters on the show had it. She credited her parents and medical professionals with teaching her to live with it but said she kept it hidden from her friends -- who told her years later they did not know about her diagnosis. "Because I hid it. Like my insulin pumps, when I checked my blood sugar I didn't want anybody [to know]. I wanted to fit in with everybody. So it just was, it was a rough time."

Brown has since become a certified medical assistant and works in an endocrinologist's office.

The book, she said, is intended for middle and high school students and is part autobiography and part journal as Brown shares her story with the reader and offers prompts to them.

"Throughout the years, I found a lot of comfort and healing when I began to journal. I thought that it would be an awesome idea for you to journal on your journey along with reading my journey with diabetes," reads one passage. "Describe how your life was before diabetes. Before you received the news about diabetes did you recognize signs and symptoms that you may have been experiencing? When you heard the words you have type one diabetes? How did that make you feel?"

Brown said the idea for the book started in 2019 when her daughter expressed fear about diabetes and she could not find a book to explain it to her that her daughter would relate to. She said her doctor recommended writing one, but she did not feel up to it.

Then fast-forward to 2021 and Brown said the aunt, Juanita, whom she was closest with passed away.

"She meant a lot to me. Ever since I was a little girl when she would come home from New York and I will always go to my papa's house with her…We just always had conversations, talking and laughing. And when she died, a part of me died, too, and I asked God, 'Who am I going to talk to now?'," Brown said that is when she heard God say to write a book about diabetes to speak to kids dealing with the same problem. "Because my aunt was a woman that helped people. So that legacy is going to live on with me through Pumped 4 My Journey."

But, Brown said she kept ignoring the call until one Sunday last January when she was watching church at home.

"And I heard something say, 'Go write the book.' Normally when I heard it before, I was like, 'I'm not writing a book.' But, I heard it that day and I grabbed a pen and paper, went in that bathroom, locked the door, and the tears are just hitting the page," said Brown, who added in three hours she had written the first draft.

The cover of the book is covered in symbolism -- with one side depicting the colorless, chaotic life before she got a handle on her diabetes and the other showing the calm and vibrant world after. As for the title, Brown said it stems from a suicide attempt when she was 17 and tried to use her insulin pump.

"God said, 'What you used to kill yourself, is going to push you to your purpose.'," said Brown. "I feel like Pumped 4 My Journey is more than just diabetes. It's showing kids, like, push through whatever you're facing in life, because, if I can make it, you can make it. I'm still here for a reason."

Brown said she wants other teens dealing with a diabetes diagnosis to know she understands the journey and can be their guide.

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