Children’s Mercy program helps kids with diabetes adjust to big life changes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More than 250 metro children are diagnosed with diabetes every year, so a team at Children's Mercy is trying to make the big adjustment a little easier.

Fourteen-year-old Tanner Jackson has experienced a health resurgence since his diabetes diagnosis six months ago.

"I used to be really bad, but after diabetes, it made me feel like I'm a lot better than half of my team," he said.

"I've noticed a lot of changes in him as far as he's grown a lot, has more of an appetite, a lot more energy, just all around improvement," Tanner's mother Liza Jackson said.

Tanner and his mother have spent the last few months in the STAND Program at Children's Mercy. It's a program that Dr. Ryan McDonough said keeps kids from spending nights in the hospital and helps educate families of the changes that must happen after a child is diagnosed with diabetes.

"Diabetes is a really stressful disease," McDonough said. "It is a lot of education that has to happen very quickly, and that`s a big stress on families. What we see is that requires a big commitment away from home, away from other kids, away from routine, and the stress of being in the hospital adds to an already stressful disease."

It is the program's team effort that McDonough said helps takes some pressure off of families.

"Every parent, every kid when they are first diagnosed with diabetes thinks that diabetes is going to be what defines them as a person," he said. "Our goal is to teach them that diabetes is a disease that you can live with, you can live with successfully, and you can live a long, healthy life."

That's a lesson Tanner said he learned very quickly.

"It makes me feel a lot better. I thought my life would be over but not now," he said.

And it's one he hopes others like him will learn as well.

"I just feel like they all need to be happy about having diabetes because you still have a life," he said. "You can still live it."