When their son, Francis, was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his early teens, Frank and Nancy Selldorff were referred to Joslin Diabetes Center’s world-renowned Pediatric Clinic for his ongoing care. There, they met Lori Laffel, MD, MPH, Chief of Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Medicine, who has played a pivotal role in their lives ever since. To recognize and thank Laffel, the Selldorffs recently made a generous $25,000 gift to support her research focused on the use of new technology to monitor glucose levels in children and adolescents.
Loyal donors since 2015, the Selldorffs credit Laffel and her clinical team with not only educating the entire family about type 1 diabetes and providing exceptional care to their son, but also for going the extra mile to answer questions and allay fears—even if it meant taking late night phone calls or visiting Francis at college. “When it comes to healthcare, we seek out the best of the best and follow their advice,” says Frank, who believes in supporting strong leaders with a proven track record and enabling them to pursue their vision. “Dr. Laffel is clearly at the top of her field and we’re happy to support her research in any way we can.”
Like most other parents of children with type 1 diabetes, the Selldorffs were surprised and frightened by Francis’s diagnosis almost a decade ago. A competitive hockey player and sailor, Francis was an active teen with boundless energy. The Selldorffs became alarmed when he suddenly began to lose weight despite having a healthy appetite; he also grew increasingly fatigued. One day he collapsed at his desk in school and was hospitalized prior to connecting with Joslin Diabetes Center. “The initial phase was very challenging, as you learn about the disease and how to manage it,” says Nancy, expressing gratitude for the education, coaching, and personalized care provided by Laffel, and her nurse, Ashley Keating-Atkins. Over the years, Francis has given back to Joslin by participating in several clinical trials. He also served as a youth ambassador and mentor to other children and adolescents diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “He has always been responsible about addressing his condition head-on,” says Nancy. “Francis is very conscientious. He is always interested in learning about the science behind the disease and doing what he can to raise awareness and help others.”
A recent graduate of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management, Francis is now entering the next phase of his life with both good health and a positive outlook. Currently, he is pursuing a career in race car driving, his passion since youth. He credits his diabetes with teaching him some important life lessons about self-awareness and resilience that have served him well, allowing him to excel in academics and athletics. His parents couldn’t agree more. “Francis has had to deal with health issues that most other kids don’t and we’re incredibly proud of all that he’s accomplished,” says Frank. “Joslin Diabetes Center and Dr. Laffel have helped him live his best life and we’re happy to give back and help others do the same.”