By Johanna Fleischman

I remember the day I was informed I had developed Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes: I sat in a blue room, encircled by dinosaur stickers, a female doctor flitted in and out through the cracked door, and fresh tears sprinkled on my mother’s shoulder. I was diagnosed almost six years ago.
I remember learning to test my blood glucose and inject insulin; this now seems as second nature to me as eating a bowl of cereal or brushing my teeth. That happened yesterday, and the day before yesterday, and the day before that.
What initially appeared to me as a burden and a hindrance transformed into a condition that I have come not only to live with, but also to learn from. What initially appeared a physical setback turned into a gift from which I have grown.
I believe that it is my experience integrating diabetes into my daily life that has caused me to grow into the independent and motivated person I have become.
As a middle school student, it was not easy for me to walk over to the office every lunch break, check my blood sugar, and stab myself with a syringe. I did not want my habits and my routine altered by the onset of diabetes.
Although I grasped that many new responsibilities had arisen, I longed to prove to my teachers, my parents, and my peers that I was capable of handling this condition in an independent and mature manner.
After some time, my teachers began to rely on me to give myself shots and check my blood suger in the classroom, and today, I use an insulin pump through which I deliver my medication.
By using my drive for achievement, I created the life I wanted despite my setback. I continued enjoying every day on this planet by learning to accept my own challenges. I saw my diabetes not as a physical handicap, but as a platform from which I matured.
I realized that without my experience battling this obstacle, I would not possess one of my greatest strengths: ambition.
However, during the past year difficulties arose in maintaining high grades and good health; it was not until recently that I recognized that these two portions of my character are integrated. Both my school performance and my health affect my future.
It is my responsibility to balance and respect these two aspects of my life, so that I am prepared to confront the greater challenges that await me in the future.
The process of earning the trust of my teachers, gaining high marks on my report card, and receiving extra-curricular awards does not come without a price. The cost of achievement is striving for an unreachable goal; the cost of achievement is learning to trust oneself; the cost of achievement is believing that it is possible for every difficulty to be overcome.
Ambition is what inspired Bill Gates to create a billion-dollar computer company, transforming him from a college dropout to, for many years, the richest man in the world.
Currently, he uses that wealth to reduce the physical and economic disparities in the world.
Ambition is what allowed Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times, after having battled cancer.
Currently, he raises money through his foundation to eradicate cancer in children.
Ambition is what will help me achieve my own success in life. This entails triumphing over every difficulty that comes my way.
As Gates and Armstrong now inspire people to see the positive aspects in bleak situations, I will use my obstacle to motivate others to see my condition not as a hindrance, but as a gift.