Joslin Patient, David Gomes, Inspired by his Diabetes
Twenty-four-year-old David Gomes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on his 1st birthday. A week or two earlier, his parents, Carla and Ronald Gomes, MD, knew something was not right and took him to his pediatrician, but no diagnosis was made. David kept losing weight and when his breathing was labored on his birthday they rushed him to the hospital; he was slipping into a diabetic coma. Ultimately David's parents entrusted the care of their young son to Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, knowing it as the world's preeminent diabetes care center.
David went through the normal stages of growing up, playing sports and going to summer camp with the added stress of having to worry about his blood sugar levels and giving himself insulin injections at a very young age. His doctor at Joslin, Dr. Lori Laffel, encouraged David to attend a Joslin Diabetes Center summer camp when he was ten years old to help him manage his diabetes– and it was a game changer.
"I still remember going to the Joslin camp and meeting kids like me who had diabetes. I felt comfortable there and I knew, even at that age, that Joslin was going to be an important part of my life forever," said David. "I looked up to my camp counselors, these twenty-year-olds living with diabetes and playing sports and going to college. They gave me a realistic, and surprisingly normal, expectation for my future with diabetes."
The Gomeses are living with diabetes as a family, going above and beyond merely managing David's diabetes, to using it as a platform to raise money and awareness. Carla Gomes established CityFeast in 2005; it is a dining event held at several restaurants in the North End, including two of her own (Antico Forno and Terramia Ristorante), that benefits Joslin's High Hopes Fund. This year's CityFeast will be held on Sunday, January 25th at 6:00pm at 10 renowned North End restaurants to honor its 10th Anniversary!
"CityFeast represents how diabetes can be spun into something positive," David Gomes said. "Yes, there are challenges that come with the disease, I have dealt with many, but it's important to note the positives that come along with every obstacle. My Mom created CityFeast because of the support Joslin has given me, and now it's one of my favorite nights of the year. CityFeast brings together my family, friends, and the city of Boston for a great time, with great food, and it sheds light on this disease and the work being done at Joslin. It also highlights the important connection between food and diabetes."
The team at Joslin and Dr. Laffel are a constant source of support for David, even outside of his appointments; that support has led him to pursue a medical career. In 2013, David graduated from MCPHS University (Boston) with a Bachelor's degree in Pre-medicine. He is now enrolled in PA (Physician Assistant) school at MCPHS University in Worcester, where he will be going on rotation and gaining the valuable experience he needs to fulfill his dream of being an endocrinologist and studying medicine related to diabetes treatment.
David added, "I want to be a living example of how someone with diabetes can live a normal life. I eat what others do – I am Italian, I grew up in fantastic restaurants and love food! I just need to exercise, be smart about choices, and remember to check my insulin."
Working out regularly and playing both flag football and ice hockey on the weekends keeps David fit and healthy. He credits his diabetes with making him "more responsible, more aware" and better able to lead a healthy life but that doesn't stop his mother, Carla, from worrying about him, hosting fundraisers like CityFeast for Joslin, and "always working to find a cure."
"This year marks a decade for CityFeast," says Carla Gomes, David's mother and the owner of Terramia Ristorante and Antico Forno in the North End. "We have raised tens of thousands of dollars each of the past years and every cent gets us closer to the day my son David and millions like him will know a world free from diabetes and its complications. I hope to make this year's event the most successful to date."