Overcoming Challenges and Living in the Now
By Debbie Hall
Photos by RLP Photography
Just months after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Las Vegas native and Summerlin resident, Fallon Smythe, was selected Miss Junior Teen Nevada 2011 at age 13.
“Fallon was diagnosed in October 2010 with Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, after undergoing various health challenges for the past three years,” said Smythe’s mother Rebecca Prephan.
“Choosing to compete in the Miss Junior Teen Nevada Pageant presented itself as a positive focus in my life and a way to spread awareness of Type 1 diabetes,” Smythe said.
But competing for titles, including Miss Junior Teen United States 2011, is not the only activity of Smythe.
“Right now I am completely focused on my studies. Being an honors 8th grader is not easy, and of course, I’m focused on my health,” Smythe said. “(Also) being a positive thinker, I believe a positive view on life will help me in my recovery.”
As for goals, Symthe said, “I love animals and I love to sing, so maybe I’ll become the world’s first singing veterinarian. I’m not sure. But I am certain I’ll be doing something that is helpful to others.”
Symthe ironically credits her diagnosis for being her inspiration to take chances, but admits it wasn’t easy at first.
“Having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year changed my life so much. It was one of my mom’s dear friends that introduced me to pageantry. After many conversations with my mom, I felt I needed a positive focus in my life. The first few months of my diagnosis were difficult on me physically and mentally. I had lost a lot of weight, I had trouble walking, I was experiencing a lot of physical pain and I had to give myself insulin shots every few hours. I was just so unsure of so many things, my life was changing,” she said.
“So Deborah Ashton-Cooke, the reigning Mrs. Nevada, United States introduced me to The United States Pageant, and here I am. I have gone from not being able to walk eight months ago to learning to walk in heels. I truly believe that I can help other children with this disease by going out there and trying to be a positive person while bringing awareness and hopefully funds to help find a cure … I consider myself very lucky to have such a wonderful family and supportive friends that my heart hurts for those children who may be going through this challenge alone.”
Symthe also credits her mother as her mentor in moving forward. “Of course my mom is one of my mentors. She has sacrificed so much for me and my younger brother. She has taught me to look inward for guidance and strength. She has allowed me to verbalize my frustrations and feelings with regards to growing up with diabetes. She has always made me feel like I am not alone in this fight and maybe there is a bigger reason why I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.”
As many as three million Americans may have Type 1 diabetes. Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults—approximately 80 people per day—are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the United States. Smythe is a junior ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.
“JDRF has helped me raise so much more awareness for diabetes,” Smythe said. “I have been able to share my story on many occasions to large groups of people. I have been able to let them know what I have been able overcome due to my being in a wheelchair a few months ago to now walking in heels. I forced myself to walk. JDRF is an amazing foundation and has become a large part of my life.”
Symthe is a wonderful example of a Future Fearless Female living a full, meaningful life and inspiring those who meet her.