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Type 1 diabetes hasn’t stopped Cedar Creek’s Deanna DeMarco from becoming one of CAL’s best softball players

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher When you look at Deanna DeMarco, you see the ultimate softball player. Eye black, sunglasses, a strong throw from shortstop, fluid motions in the field, a powerful bat. It’s hard to believe that the vibrant Cedar Creek junior was laying in a hospital bed two days before the start of her freshman season, nearly in a coma with her internal organs threatening to shut down and kill her. A month before the start of tryouts in 2013, DeMarco was given a clean bill of health at her spring sports physical. A few weeks later, after catching a virus, mom Deborah said, Deanna was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which was formerly known as juvenile diabetes. It’s a disease that if not properly controlled can lead to kidney and nerve damage, among other ailments. Doctors advised Deanna not to play softball her freshman year, and Deborah said she thought her daughter’s high school softball career might be over before it ever began. But the doctors definitely underestimated Deanna’s determination. Not only was she at tryouts the day after being released from the hospital, but in the two years since her diagnosis, the current junior has blossomed into one of the best infielders in the Cape-Atlantic League. “It’s been a few years now and she’s doing pretty well. She plays not only with Cedar Creek but also on Marlton Thunder White, which is her travel team, and Marlton Thunder Red picked her up as a guest player because she’s been playing so well. She’s overcome a lot, she definitely has,” Deborah DeMarco said. “I noticed that she started losing a lot of weight. She had a virus a couple weeks before. She had her sports physical for high school softball a month prior to her diagnosis, and she was in perfect health. Within one month she went downhill. The doctors said she caught a virus and the virus attacked her pancreas. Her pancreas is basically not working. She does injections now and she just got her (insulin) pump, so she’ll have to go through learning how to play sports with that, but she’s definitely up for the challenge.” DeMarco said she has to constantly monitor her blood sugar, even during games, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming one of the best hitters and shortstops in the league. DeMarco said she has to constantly monitor her blood sugar, even during games, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of the best hitters and shortstops in the league. “It was very hard. I think I was more devastated than everyone. She does karate; she went from being a healthy child with all the sports and everything to laying in a hospital bed almost in a coma. They said her organs were close to shutting down. Softball was the least of my concerns,” Deborah said. “She told the doctor when he came in and said she wouldn’t be able to play that she guaranteed him she would be on the field for tryouts. I was scared the whole day. I said to my husband, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it through this day and this weekend.’ She had tryouts on that Saturday all day long. With her getting out of the hospital the day before, I didn’t think she would be able to do it, but she did.” Deanna DeMarco is not the kind of girl to shy away from a challenge. She’s one of the top students at the school, and she has dealt with this disease by meeting it head on, every day. She even has been mentoring other teens through her Instagram account, offering words of support and encouraging kids her age not to get depressed about their situation. And, in a way, her being proactive about dealing with the disease helps her avoid any type of depression that is commonly associated with young people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes. “We exchange tips on there and give each other support,” Deanna said. “It’s really important and it’s great to have that support system of people who actually understand what is happening to you.” Deborah said it is important that Deanna’s teammates and coaches, whether it be on her Cedar Creek team or her travel squads, don’t treat her with kid gloves. She said her daughter might have a disease, but she won’t let it define who she is or who she becomes. “I don’t want to treat her differently than anybody else. She has diabetes, but that’s not who she is,” Deborah said. “She really is a great kid. She’s a leader, and just a great all-around kid. Not only in sports, but in school is well.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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