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Dead Pancreas

Dead Pancreas Society provides community-building and advocacy opportunities to type 1 diabetics at NU

It’s been really nice to have this group who understands what it’s like to have this disease and wants to bring some positive change to the world from what can often be a negative disease.”

Averi Muniz
Co-President and Co-Founder of The Dead Pancreas Society

The club’s annual Allies Night teaches non-diabetics how to help diabetic friends navigate transition away from home 

Starting college can be daunting. However, this transition is far more complicated for students with type 1 diabetes.  

These students, many managing their health alone for the first time, must order medical supplies, transfer their prescriptions to a nearby pharmacy, pay medical bills and ensure their roommate knows what living with someone with type 1 diabetes entails, all on top of living in a brand -new place and starting classes.  

“You’re coming to a place where you don’t know anyone,” Weinberg senior Averi Muniz said. “It was really weird having to explain the fact that I have diabetes to every new person I met because I grew up in the same place for most of my life, so everyone I was around just knew.” 

Muniz and McCormick senior June Hooper each managed their diabetes alone when they first arrived on campus amidst the pandemic, tacking on isolation and social distancing to their other early -college struggles.  

But when Hooper learned about The Diabetes Link, a national nonprofit that aims to help young adults navigate their type 1 diabetes, she said she immediately knew she wanted to start a chapter at Northwestern. Hooper reached out to Muniz, and soon, The Dead Pancreas Society (DPS), Northwestern’s chapter of The Diabetes Link, was born.   

Now, approaching the end of their time at Northwestern, Hooper and Muniz, DPS’s co-presidents, alongside their vice president, Weinberg senior Adam Ruzumna, can look back on the space they’ve created for social support for those with type 1 diabetes, alongside their community outreach to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes. 

 “It wasn’t my expectation that I would be able to find a [diabetes-based] community like this at NU, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Muniz said. “It’s been really nice to have this group who understands what it’s like to have this disease and wants to bring some positive change to the world from what can often be a negative disease.” 

DPS supports its members through informal meetings, which, according to Hooper, “don't have any point to them except hanging out and building community among diabetics.” Previous events held by the club include bracelet making, movie nights and pumpkin painting. 

“Everyone sharing their experiences and just being in a space where diabetes is normal is helpful,” Hooper said. 

On the advocacy side of their work, DPS holds an Allies Night regularly, inviting their friends, pre-medical students, and any other students who want to learn to be an ally to people with type 1 diabetes. DPS members teach attendees about the disease, its physical effects, the mental health struggles that can accompany it and how they can help, for example, experiencing low blood sugar. 

DPS also held its inaugural Off to College event, open to NU’s incoming class of 2028 and students at nearby high schools. The club presented about navigating rooming with other students as a person with diabetes, which, according to Hooper, provides a myriad of extra circumstances to consider. 

“They do have responsibilities as diabetic roommates because, for example, if my pump or Dexcom — a continuous glucose monitor — was going off, could you wake me up? Could you support me if my blood sugar is really low or high?” Hooper said. You have to be upfront and make sure your roommates are willing and able to do that.”  

Navigating college with type 1 diabetes also presents additional considerations when it comes to drinking, dining hall food and more. Alongside their presentation, DPS brought in a panel that included a pediatrician, an accessibility worker and a dietitian for. 

Ruzumna said that members have complete autonomy in how much time they commit to the club, making it a very low-stress commitment. Further, he emphasized that anyone could join DPS, including those without type 1 diabetes. 

“We’re open to diabetics and people who want to be diabetic allies,” Ruzumna said. “Everybody's welcome at the club. All we want are people who are open-minded and wanting to learn.”  

To get involved with The Dead Pancreas Society, reach out to them via Instagram.