Shalene Stahl thought her life was over when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14. Two years later, she has not only learned to overcome her fears and live with diabetes, but she is helping others to do so, too.
MIFFLINBURG, Pa. - Scared and hurting, a PA Cyber student diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes credits her school, her Instructional Supervisor and her fellow students with helping her survive and move beyond this crisis time of her life.
Shalene Stahl, 16, a junior from Mifflinburg and a daughter of Steven and Amy Stahl, has been a PA Cyber student for five years.
“Shalene is a wonderful student who has not let her illness slow her down,” said Susan Imbriale, her Instructional Supervisor. “She has become an advocate for children with Type 1 diabetes, making efforts to educate and inspire others in her school and community”
Here is Shalene’s story in her own words:
“At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
‘’ I had just come into PA Cyber two years before and I thought my life was great and everything was going exactly as I wanted it. But that all changed on Jan. 24, 2010, at 3:46 p.m. I was rushed to the ER and admitted early the next morning.
“I was kept for three days and through that time the nurses and my endocrinologist kept saying how tough I was, not crying or lashing out in anger for what was happening to me, but deep down I was too scared to even think of talking about it, let alone cry over it. I was heartbroken. I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it for days, then weeks, then months.
“After getting over the thought of pricking myself daily and giving myself a shot every time I ate something, then was the first time I broke down and cried. Being in school and having a medical problem is hard, but thanks to PA Cyber, they’ve been by me the whole way.
“My IS, Susan Imbriale, has been like a second mother to me. She’s helped me pick classes that are easier for me, but that help me work towards my career. She’s helped me by cheering me on from the sidelines and making sure I’m doing okay in my classes. She’ll call and talk to me, she’ll ask me if I am having a hard time or am I okay.
“At a public school you don’t have that, you have to do it yourself, ask the teacher or your parents for help, they don’t have that special someone there to help you with your problems, to check up on you once a month to make sure you’re okay. She’s helped me more then she knows. Thank you, Susan!
“PA Cyber – I want you to know that you have given me my life back. I was scared and hurting. I was in and out of the hospital due to many other problems associated with my diabetes. I was given extended time to make up my homework. With a school laptop so I was able to do my classes in the hospital or in bed when I was too sick to get up.
“I was able to adjust to my new life without having to go to a public school and teach my friends while I was trying to learn. I would have never been able to do that if I was at a public school! I won’t have to worry about the pressure of not being normal at school; I’m able to talk freely about myself with other kids like me here at PA Cyber. Not only have you given my life back, you’ve given me my freedom back. Thank you for that.
“This is to all the kids I know here at PA Cyber. Thank you for being there with me through it all! No matter how little you did, you were there to talk to me, share your problems, too, and made sure that I CHECKED MY SUGAR!!! Haha. Thanks guys!!! You’re the best classmates I could ever ask for! “
Shalene came to PA Cyber in 2007 when the private school that she and her siblings attended was no longer financially feasible for her family. After looking at other homeschooling options, they decided PA Cyber would be the best choice for them.
Upon first discovering her illness, Shalene’s ability to keep up with her classes was affected. Since that time, she has fought against her disease and has excelled with her coursework, said Imbriale.
Shalene said she wants the world to understand that “not everyone is healthy and skinny.” She hopes to start an exercise bike group for diabetics and the obese using a bike trail in her area.
A singer and musician, Shalene has traveled on several mission trips for her church, employing her passion for music by singing and playing the piano and violin.
“Shalene is a very caring individual who is always willing to help others,” said Imbriale. “She has shown this already with all of the pets and animals that she has taken care of in her home. She wants to channel this helping spirit into a career, obtaining a family law degree to assist families with child adoption and foster care.”
Shalene credits her PA Cyber consumer math course teacher, Edwin Breaux, with providing direction to those future plans. "Shalene was a regular at my Thursday night career exploration sessions, one of three really passionate attendees," said Breaux.
“Shalene,” said Imbriale, “is an inspiration to other students to not let situations in their lives detour them from pursuing their goals and dreams.”
(PA Cyber press release, Aug. 22, 2012. Contact Fred Miller, 724.777.5918, email@example.com)