Dexcom Warriors Keary and Zola wearing Dexcom G7 sensors, both managing type 1 diabetes

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Dexcom CGM bridges the gap for mother and daughter on diabetes journeys

For Keary Cheney, a trip to Uganda, a misdiagnosis of parasitic infection and a coma turned out to be the greatest gifts she ever received. In 2015, the now 34-year-old mother of three – with another due in October – headed to East Africa with her husband to adopt their son Oliver. After two months in Uganda going through the process, Keary got sick.
“We kept treating for parasites, but I only got worse,” she said. “I thought I would die in Uganda if I didn’t back to the United States and get different care.”
She returned home to San Diego to seek treatment while her husband remained in Uganda to adopt Oliver. But despite better care for a month, her health took a devastating turn. Dehydration, frequent urination, rapid weight loss and deteriorating vision took their tolls, and she ended up in the emergency room where she went into a coma shortly after checking in. When she woke a few days later with four IVs in her arm, she thought: “Man, these parasites really did a number on my body!” That’s when the nurses told her she had type 1 diabetes with blood glucose at 548 mg/dL and an A1C of 14.1%.
“It was wild to wake from a coma to that news and realize my whole life changed overnight,” Keary said.
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And more change was approaching. Back in Uganda, her husband fought red tape to get Oliver his U.S. visa as she began her diabetes journey. Around the same time, a friend who runs a Uganda organization reached out to tell her they had a little girl, Zola, with diabetes who needed a foster home and Keary would be a great candidate to help care for her. Keary and her husband agreed to take her in as a foster. And today, Zola is a happy and healthy permanent part of the family.
“I would not trade my diabetes diagnosis for anything, because Zola was the most beautiful, unexpected gift that ever could have happened,” Keary said. “I still get emotional talking about it all these years later. As soon as we found out about her, the whole puzzle came together, and it all just made sense. She’s my daughter, and I knew it from the beginning.”

An unbreakable mother-daughter bond

Keary has enjoyed cultivating the mother-daughter bond with Zola and watching her thrive. The unique situation of learning to manage diabetes together with Dexcom CGM – at first with Dexcom G5 – has brought the two even closer together and helped bridge a language barrier gap.
“Zola didn’t speak English when she joined our family, so that was a huge barrier for us,” Keary said. “I couldn’t explain to her what carbs were. I couldn’t explain to her that I have to poke her with insulin shots, and I couldn’t explain glucose levels going up and down. We used a lot of hand signals. But her being able to use a Dexcom CGM, it bridged the gap for us, helped her to understand what was happening inside of her body and what diabetes was before she could understand it in the English language.”
Dexcom CGM has been a vital part of Keary and Zola’s lives since their diagnoses in 2015. The ability to see real-time data for better, more instantaneous treatment adjustments had an immediate impact on both mother and daughter, Keary said.
“The best way I can describe it’s like you’re walking around blind or you desperately need glasses, and you don’t understand what’s happening, how foods and exercise are affecting your levels,” she explained. “Then you start using Dexcom CGM, and it’s like putting on glasses for the first time, and it’s a whole new world out there. There’s so much detail and information and it just helps you to get a better picture of what diabetes is, what’s happening inside your body.”
Doctor showing Zola her glucose readings and historical data on an Ipad

"You start using Dexcom CGM and it's like putting on glasses for the first time, and it's a whole new world out there."

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Dexcom CGM also helped remove some of the duo’s stress of managing diabetes. “I felt like I was carrying the load for two people, and it felt really heavy for a long time,” Keary said. “Dexcom CGM was almost like another person helping me manage. It was another pair of eyes when I’m sleeping, so that I feel like maybe I can get some rest. Of all the tools we have for diabetes, Dexcom is the one that stands out the most on just making day-to-day life easier, taking diabetes off your mind.”
Finding hope with Dexcom CGM
Now pregnant with her fourth child, diabetes is less of a worry with her Dexcom G7. Using the CGM and an insulin pump*, she maintains her A1C between 5.1% and 5.6% and has her glucose levels in check even as her pregnancy brings hormonal changes, fluctuations in her levels and periods of higher insulin resistance.
Keary and Zola smiling showing glucose readings on smart device using Dexcom G7 CGM app
“Dexcom G7 allows me to see a fuller picture of how I’m ramping up this insulin resistance, so I can figure out what settings I need to change on my pump, how I need to adjust how much insulin I take and how I can increase exercise to combat this resistance and stay within this target range to make sure we have the best outcome for our baby,” Keary said. “It’s been such a cool way for me to see early pregnancy and understand my resistance was starting to peak. I know what I need to do to make changes not for myself, but for somebody else I also have to think about now.”
And once her newest bundle of joy arrives, she’ll get back to her professional photography career and spending time with her growing family hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors in her native California with a sense of relief Dexcom CGM brings.
“I feel like Dexcom CGM has been a tangible piece of hope for our family and something that just made us feel like we can still have joy and do all the things for the most part that everybody else does, like travel, vacation and play sports, whatever it is,” Keary said.
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*Dexcom is working closely with our insulin pump partners to integrate Dexcom G7 into current and future automated insulin delivery (AID) systems as quickly as possible. Please reach out to the pump company for the most current launch timelines. individual results may vary.
BRIEF SAFETY STATEMENT: Failure to use the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring System and its components according to the instructions for use provided with your device and available at and to properly consider all indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and cautions in those instructions for use may result in you missing a severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) occurrence and/or making a treatment decision that may result in injury. If your glucose alerts and readings from the Dexcom CGM do not match symptoms, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. Seek medical advice and attention when appropriate, including for any medical emergency.
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