Langford girl takes Type 1 to the masses

West Shore family aims to educate about diabetes after daughter diagnosed last year

Maegan Barwis

In a tumble of flying hair and girly giggles two pre-teens wrestle the family dog on the

Barwis family living room floor.


Maegan Barwis, Charlie Holborn and Otis enjoy a little post school playtime, but the pink bulk of insulin pump clipped to Maegan’s waistband hints at the extra responsibilities foisted on the 12 year old.

The Langford youth was diagnosed with juvenile, or Type 1, diabetes in March 2011.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables her body to get energy from food.

“If I’m low I feel a certain way. If I’m high I feel a certain way,” she said of her unbalanced levels.

The pink pump helps her keep those sugars in balance.

“For her lunch I have to write the amount of carbs and she does the math to figure it out,” explains mom Leah, of school lunches.

“(The pump) gives me the amount of insulin I need for the amount of carbs I eat,” Maegan adds. She hops to her feet, skips to the dining room and returns with a small black kit. Deftly she unzips then plucks out a test strip to pop in the top of the pump. She pulls a black pen-shaped tool and pokes a finger pushing out a pinprick of blood and swipes it across the test strip.

She bears the extra burden with finesse beyond that of most Grade 7 students.

“The responsibility she has now is a lot more than the average 12 year old,” says dad Brett. “We do put a fair bit on Maeg. Ultimately … she’s the one who has to live with it. We want her to be educated and take ownership of it.”

“Maegan’s very aware of her body. She knows she’s low before she tests and it will wake her up,” Leah adds.

That doesn’t stop dad from waking in the wee hours to check on his little girl, on the odd chance she doesn’t awake.

That fear limits the Langford youth’s sleepovers, though Charlie is among her closest friends, and the one place she likes to overnight.

“That’s the only place I feel safe because she’ll take care of me, almost mothers me,” Maegan says throwing a laugh in Charlie’s direction. Her pal just grins back.

Charlie’s part of the education component of Maegan’s new required lifestyle. She’s among those at É’cole John Stubbs who watched a video when Maegan returned to school.

“When I was first diagnosed we sent in a video for the whole class to watch,” Maegan says.

Education is a priority for the whole family.

“There’s a lack of awareness of how it affects a child and a family,” said Leah who chaired the local fundraising gala, the Promise Ball, last month. “I want to help educate.”

“When a cure is found, we will be taking advantage of it. We want to do our part to make it happen,” Brett adds.


November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Learn more about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation online at



Just Posted

Major expansion coming to Royal Bay Secondary

Province will build space for 600 more students on same site

Colwood wins Victoria Flower Count for a five-peat

The 43rd annual Flower Count had over three billion blossoms counted in total

Langford fundraiser for kidney disease is a success

Maureen Hobbs thinks B.C. Transplant says it best: “Live life. Pass it on.”

West Shore municipalities eye mass notification system

System would send out info via text, email or phone call in an emergency

Moving fire dispatch services will save taxpayers thousands, say mayors

Transition will save about $1.5 million over the next five years

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

RV David Thompson unveiled in Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Parks Canada research vessel part of billion-dollar environmental investment

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Most Read