I Am Joining The Joslin Medalists Group/ My Sister's Letter

By Richard157 Latest Reply 2009-08-18 17:18:40 -0500
Started 2009-08-09 20:06:14 -0500

The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston gives medals to diabetics who have lived with their diabetes for 50 and 75 years. They also provide certificates for 25 years. I have had diabetes for 63 years so I am applying for the 50 year medal. To be accepted I must show proof that I have been diabetic for at least 50 years. The hospital where I was admitted in 1945 keeps records for only the past 10 years and my parents and doctors (from back then) are all deceased. I was told that letters from people who knew me well in those years would be accepted. My cousin and my sister have written letters and they have been mailed. (My sister's letter appears below.) They are supposed to be hand written and signed.

After becoming part of this group I will be part of the Joslin medalist study. They are trying to determine how some of us long term diabetics can live with diabetes so long and have no complications. They will give me a reimbursement for my travel expenses and provide free lodging in a hotel before my examination. I am anxious to participate.

Here is my sister's letter. She wrote a very wonderful letter.

August 6, 2009

To: Whom It May Concern

From: Shirley Rhodes

Subject: Richard Vaughn - Living With Diabetes for 62+ Years

"My name is Shirley, and I am Richard Vaughn’s sister. He was diagnosed with Diabetes when he was 6 years old, in the 1940’s. I was only 2 at the time; therefore, I didn’t know much about it, but as I got older, I understood that he had a serious illness. Our mom and dad did not let him do some of the things that other kids his age did, or all he wanted to do. They were afraid that if he got too much exercise, he would go into insulin shock. Part of that fear was due to their lack of knowledge about the disease. I don’t think anyone, not even most doctors, knew much about Diabetes in those days.

I saw my daddy boiling the needles to sterilize them, and sometimes I watched Richard get his shot. I felt so sorry
for him. I used to hide to eat candy because he couldn’t have any. He didn’t let his Diabetes bother him too much, always having a good attitude about it, and still does. He had an interest in a lot of things when he was a kid and did not let his Diabetes interfere any more than he had to. There were times when he didn’t feel well at all and couldn’t do much, but most of the time he was playing, helping on our little farm, and just being a “kid”.

I tagged around after my brother a lot and learned many things from him. To this day, I am still interested in the activities
we took part in when we were growing up, like golfing, fishing, movies, and many other things. I tease him and tell
him that “everything I know, I learned from him”. That means bad habits, too, of course.

Richard made good grades in school but couldn’t participate in all the physical activities that the other children did, which
bothered him some. He felt like he could take part, but he was respectful of our parents, who did not want him to. Mother got notes from his doctor to excuse him from some of those activities.

There were times, especially at night, when I would hear my brother making strange, guttural sounds from his bed. When
that happened, I knew that he was going into shock, and I would wake up our mother. She and Daddy knew what to
do to bring him out of an insulin shock. Those “spells” always scared me so badly, and I guess I was afraid he was going to die.

Page 2

As Richard grew up, he learned more and more about how to control his Diabetes and was determined to go to college. He worked his way through his college years and became a very successful college teacher himself, well liked by his students and peers. I am, and always have been, very proud of him. He has had a lot of obstacles to overcome in his life, and today he is enjoying his retirement, along with his wife of 45 years. He has many hobbies and projects that keep him busy. He now has an insulin pump to help to keep his blood sugars regulated, and it has really been a blessing!

Richard is a wonderful person, and brother, and I think he deserves all the good things that life has to offer him.


Shirley Rhodes"

12 replies

John Crowley
John CrowleyCA 2009-08-11 11:00:05 -0500 Report

You are living proof of the hope I have for my son. If you were able to do so well all these years, using treatments for many years that were far less effective than what we have now and here you are 63 years later, healthy and without complications.

Thanks for being a great example to us all.


Richard157 2009-08-11 12:23:45 -0500 Report

John, I wish you and your son the very best!!! If your son takes good care of himself he should have a long, healthy life ahead of him.

sita - 57604
sita - 57604 2009-08-18 17:18:40 -0500 Report

I am newly diagnosed and just found this website. I was so touched by your sisters letter. I have a friend who has been struggling for years and I worried about him. I will share this website with him. I look forward to reading more about all of you. Little did I realize I would be in this position. It is very scary.
Thanks for sharing your letter.

Sarguillo 2009-08-10 16:52:29 -0500 Report

Richard, you are and will continue to be an inspiration to me. Good luck with the study and receiving the medal. Nice to have sisters who will write a letter if needed.

hbkunkel 2009-08-10 15:02:40 -0500 Report

WOW!!! That letter that your sister wrote was wonderful. Although we have come a very long ways from what you experienced as a child, we still have a long ways to go and I will pray that you are accepted into the study. You are an inspiration to us all. Best wishes and God be with you.

Crashnot 2009-08-10 10:21:18 -0500 Report

That's a wonderful letter, and story! The remarkable thing is that even though I was diagnosed so much later, in 1968, the treatments were still about the same. I do wish we'd hung on to my old glass syring in it's boiling bottle for history's sake! I'm a ways off from 50 years, but would be interested in their study. Do they have a website you could share?

apanda 2009-08-09 22:19:31 -0500 Report

Richard, I have to agree with Avera and Judimar. What a wonderful insperation you are, and I loved reading your sister's letter. You can tell she is so proud of her big brother! :) Keep us posted with all that you learn from this study. I too hope that someday someone finds a cure for this awful disease.

Judimar 2009-08-09 21:36:49 -0500 Report


You are such an inspiration to all of us. I hope you are selected. Please as Avera asked, share your adventures with us. I hope that this study will bring the insights and answers to so many questions that medical professionals are looking for and will aid them in finding a cure.

You're in my thoughts and prayers!


Avera 2009-08-09 21:21:05 -0500 Report


This is excellent news! I cannot wait to read the results of the study that you will participate in. It is an answer to a question that thousands of diabetics will want to know. Please keep us posted and maybe you could write and tell us all about your escapades during the study. They are going to love you there and I am sure you will add much to the study.

I can see that excellent writing skills must run in your family. The letter from your sister is a wonderful thing. One can see that she loves you very much.

Good luck,my friend! Can't wait to hear more from you concerning this post.


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