Q: A family we met at our clinic invited us to their daughter’s “dia-versary” celebration. Our son was just diagnosed, and I can’t imagine celebrating the day he received his diagnosis. What is this all about?

A: In addition to the usual list of birthdays, holidays, and other special occasion days that take place throughout the year, some families decide to mark the anniversary of their child’s diagnosis with type 1 diabetes — the child’s “dia-versary” — in a special way.

The reason for doing so is quite simple: Looking for the positives in such a life-altering diagnosis can be very therapeutic — for your child, for you, and for the rest of the family, too. A dia-versary celebration, however basic or elaborate, is a chance to acknowledge your child’s strength and determination, a way to recognize how far your family has come in the past year, and a great opportunity to make having diabetes a little more fun.

Planning a dia-versary doesn’t require any special party-throwing skills. If your child is old enough to weigh in on the decision of how to celebrate, ask him what he would like to do and let these wishes guide you. Most young children really enjoy a true birthday party-style celebration and look forward to it every year. Ideas include enjoying a special “anything goes” meal at a favorite restaurant followed by a fun activity of the child’s choosing. (Don’t forget to ask your diabetes team for help to accommodate any major deviation from normal eating and activity.) Some families include a gift for the child and invite friends and relatives to join in the festivities. If the child is too young or not interested in a special celebration, some parents make a donation on their child’s behalf to a hospital or charity as a way to still mark the occasion.

The best way to find out what a dia-versary celebration is all about may be to attend the one you’ve just been invited to! Helping another child celebrate this special day will probably be a very positive experience for your child. However, before you RSVP, make sure you talk to your son about what the party will be about and allow him to be the one to ultimately decide whether or not to attend.

When your child’s dia-versary day rolls around, no matter what the plan, set time aside to reflect on his bravery, discipline, strength, knowledge, sacrifices, and courage . . . and your own. It’s worth celebrating!

–Paula Jameson, M.S.N., A.R.N.P., is a certified diabetes educator and program coordinator at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando.


How Other Parents Deal

“Our son has now had five dia-versaries since he was diagnosed at age 4. We keep it fun and happy, and he looks forward to it just like a birthday. This year, we plan to spend all day at the beach, something that on the day of his diagnosis, I couldn’t imagine us ever doing again. Now we’ll be there enjoying the sun and water … and celebrating life!”

–Stephanie L., mom of 9-year-old Hunter


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Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.