Stacie Overton Johnson focuses on everything she wants to be
The day Stacie Overton Johnson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes could have been the day that changed her life forever. But Stacie — then a 16-year-old high school varsity soccer and basketball captain — wouldn’t hear of it.
“I had a soccer tournament in ten days. My doctor looked at me and said, ‘You’re not going to play in that tournament.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I just felt like I had a lot to prove, that people were going to be telling me for the rest of my life that I couldn’t do things — couldn’t have children, couldn’t live alone, couldn’t have a stressful job. But I did all of those things.”
Stacie, now 42, attributes her unwavering positive attitude to the one person who never told her she couldn’t do something: her mother. “When it came to my mother, can’t was not in the dictionary,” she says. “She’d tell me, ‘Whatever you want to do, you can do it. Go out and do it.'”
Not only did Stacie play in that tournament, she scored a hat trick in one game and won a trophy for being the tournament’s lead scorer. She went on to play NCAA Division III soccer and basketball in college, testing her insulin levels and eating quick snacks as often as necessary to keep her levels in range.
As an adult, she lived alone in Florida when she was a television producer, which was a highly stressful job. Later, she gave birth to two healthy daughters — with no complications. And when the opportunity presented itself while she was living overseas in Abu Dhabi, she even took a job as a food writer and restaurant reviewer.
“That was crazy,” she says, with a laugh. “I thought to myself, ‘Can you really do this?’ But then I thought, ‘Why can’t I?'”
She managed the job — which required her to eat at restaurants constantly, sampling and reviewing countless wide-ranging dishes — by testing her blood sugar levels eight to ten times a day and often taking insulin shots to adjust for her carb intake.
It worked. “My A1C is great,” she says. “It usually hovers around six percent. I’ve never had it hit seven percent in my entire adult life.”
Stacie continues to work out five days a week and tears up when she thinks about children newly diagnosed with diabetes — but never because she feels sorry for them.
“I know they’re scared,” she says. “And I want to be their mom for a minute and reassure them that there’s nothing they can’t do. I want to tell them, ‘Diabetes can never be the main focus of your life. This is not who you are. You are a million other things. You have to let this disease get out of your way so you can be all those other things.'”