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By Carolyn Gusoff
September 7, 2022 / 6:16 PM / CBS New York
GREAT NECK, N.Y. — A Long Island great-grandmother is one of the oldest living Americans with Type 1 diabetes.
She was told as a child she would not live more than a few years. As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, doctors say her longevity is living proof of great hope for a full life.
“I was told I would probably have about a three-to-five-year lifespan,” Libby Lashansky said.
Lashansky has had a lot of time to prove her 1940s doctors wrong.
At age 11, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The now-92-year-old Great Neck woman is among a handful of the oldest patients with the lifelong diagnosis.
“In those days, they thought they knew what they were doing,” Lashansky said.
“She really is a miracle because when she had diabetes, no one ever would have expected her to live this long,” son-in-law Saul Brenner said.
Until the discovery of insulin a century ago, juvenile diabetes, as it was then called, was considered a death sentence. Lashansky was told to keep it a secret and that her life would be short and limited.
“I was told I shouldn’t have children. It would kill me,” Lashansky said.
Two children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren later, she looks back on a full life. She became a physician, too.
“Times have changed,” she said.
She credits major advances in glucose monitoring and insulin pumps. Injections she gives herself five times a day have smaller needles, and primitive monitoring is long gone.
“I would have to use a match, light the wick and then hold the test tube over the flame,” Lashansky said.
Now, technology gives her a sugar reading every five minutes.
Her family credits her discipline.
“Have a balance between the carbohydrates, the protein and the fats,” Lashansky said.
Doctors say she is an inspiration.
“I am the one that, I’m telling them that I think you have Type 1 diabetes. To be able to give them that hope, it’s really a wonderful thing,” said Dr. Rifka Schulman-Rosenbaum, director of inpatient diabetes at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
JDRF International, the leading global Type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organization, told CBS2, “Today people with type 1 diabetes are living longer and healthier lives, which is a testament to the many research advancements in treatment options, including drug development, devices, and behavioral health interventions.”
There is still no cure for Type 1 diabetes. Lashansky always hoped for one, but says she has missed out on nothing.
“I practiced as a doctor. I lived a perfectly normal life,” she said. “Diabetes, if one is careful and watches oneself, is not a death sentence.”
She calls her ripe old age once unimaginable.
One-and-a-half million Americans have Type 1 diabetes.
Carolyn Gusoff has covered some of the most high profile news stories in the New York City area and is best known as a trusted, tenacious, consistent and caring voice of Long Island’s concerns.
First published on September 7, 2022 / 6:16 PM
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©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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