Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8, Brookline resident Kathryn Ham was told she would never be able to have children, she would suffer from myriad complications of diabetes and she would not live very long.
Ham is now 87. She gave birth to three daughters and has three grandchildren, and in her late 80s leads an active life, including having participated on a local curling team for more than 50 years. On April 29, Ham’s achievement of living with insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes for eight decades will be recognized by Joslin Diabetes Center, which will present her with an 80-year medal as part of their Medalist Program.
Joslin’s Medalist Program recognizes those with diabetes who have been insulin-dependent for 25, 50, 75 or 80 years.
As part of Joslin’s efforts, for the first time ever, more than 1,000 individuals who have survived 50 or more years with type 1 diabetes, including Ms. Ham, are being studied to determine factors which may allow them to be resistant to the historically ravaging effects of diabetes.
Ham has been a patient at Joslin since 1957, when she, her husband and oldest daughter moved to Cambridge when he took a job as a professor of aeronautics at MIT. She gave birth to her second and third daughters under the care of Dr. Priscilla White, a trailblazer in improving pregnancy care who enabled countless women with diabetes to bring healthy children into the world. Ham named her youngest daughter Joslin, in recognition of the excellent care she had received at the Center.