Olivia Stacey: A Woman of Resilience


“Compulsive, caring, and somewhat of a procrastinator.”

These are the words senior Olivia Stacey used to describe herself prior to our interview.

On March 8th, 2013, seven-year-old Stacey got put on antibiotics for a seemingly typical ear infection. Stacey started experiencing pain soon after, and the infection did not go away. Her parents decided to take her to the pediatrician to have her checked out. 

Alarmed, the pediatrician immediately sent Stacey to the emergency room.

Stacey got poked and prodded with a multitude of instruments whilst doctors tried to figure out what was wrong.

When she awoke the next morning, Stacey turned eight years old. Rather than hosting a birthday party, she found herself in a hospital room surrounded by medical personnel and family.

That same day, Stacey was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D): a disease she said, “would be a part of my life for the rest of my life.”

“I didn’t know what was happening and what the implications of the diagnosis really meant,” she continued.

According to Mayo Clinic, “T1D is a chronic condition where the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy . . . Glucose is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.” There is currently no cure for T1D.

Without insulin, a person can experience being “High” or “Low”. These terms describe how much glucose is in one’s bloodstream. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is known as “High” and too little is known as “Low”. The symptoms of these terms can cause medical ramifications if the number of glucose is far from the average range of 80-120 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). Constant monitoring of glucose numbers is a necessity for diabetics.

Stacey is alongside Superintendent Carol Kavanaugh on the floor of the high schools gym in front of a crowd of many.

At eight years old, Stacey was told she had a lifelong challenge ahead of her, yet the main feeling she felt during her stay in the hospital was “loved”.

“For some reason, I just knew I was going to have to adapt to it. It was not a choice, it will never be a choice,… I was so young, there was not really a period of sadness or grief because I did not know what (my diagnosis) meant. All my family was around me supporting me.” Stacey said.

In Stacey’s everyday life, she has to maneuver some activities in order to regulate her blood sugar. While this delays some of her activities, it doesn’t stop her.

“Maybe on a random day, if I want to exercise and my blood sugar’s low, the exercise is delayed by twenty minutes while I bring it back up. T1D requires a [high] level of preparedness and responsibility when I want to do something” she said.

If Stacey could tell her eight-year-old self one thing, it would be about the reality of the diagnosis. “You always have to be prepared, and being prepared with type one is never a choice,” she advises.

To this day, Stacey’s diagnosis has not slowed her down one bit in doing what she loves—especially when it comes to giving back to her community. She is the co-secretary of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) and is a member of the Hopkinton Center of the Arts (HCA) Teen Advisory Board.

The high school also adopted a new club with Stacy’s leadership abilities. 

Book Club, advised by English teacher Ms. Breen, began during the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year. Each month, the club members read a new book. Then, they participate in activities and have discussions about the book.

“I love reading books on my own time,” Stacey said. “During Covid, on TikTok, there was a [significant] rise in book trends that I would see reflected in bookstores. I had a lot of friends and people around me that I knew were all reading the same books. It was fun to talk to them about it, so I decided to see if it was possible to start a club at school where anyone could join and talk about these books. And so I did.”

T1D has not been the only hurdle Stacey has had to cross. In the summer of 2019, Stacey experienced another life-changing event. Her parents informed her that they had decided to separate.

“Similar to my TID diagnosis, I did not fully understand what the separation meant when I first found out about it,” she recalled. “I was sad and it was unexpected, but I just accepted it was something that was happening. One of my mantras in life is to just accept and adapt to the unexpected.”

The divorce added an extra layer of responsibility upon Stacey’s shoulders. With her parents living at different addresses, she found herself doing things like transporting her siblings from each house.

Stacey is reading the sheet of paper in front of her that is on her desk
Stacey doing homework at the end of math class.

 “I am the oldest child, only daughter, and only child with a license,” she said. “Sometimes I do take on those roles, but they’re all reasonable.”

Stacey explained that her greatest struggles have been with diabetes and her mental health. “They go hand in hand,” she said.

According to the CDC, “People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes.”

T1D requires patients to make tough decisions that can a toll on their mental health. However, Stacey keeps working hard every day. Much like her T1D, her mental health does not hold her back.

Stacey says her greatest achievement is managing it all—from T1D, to the divorce, to academics. Her friends could not agree more. 

Senior Emma DiNicola has been friends with Stacey for many years. “I see Olivia being resilient every day. I know it can’t be easy to manage diabetes with school and classes and the short lunch times, but she does. She is such a hard worker in school and takes really difficult classes. She always puts in the effort to get the results she wants. I have so much respect for Olivia”

She continuously works on herself and her well-being—quite literally. March 9th, 2023 will mark the 10-year anniversary of her T1D diagnosis. 

The things she has been through do not define her. It is her ability to adapt and achieve that exemplifies the strength of her character.

“Mature, caring, and strong.”

Those are the words Olivia Stacey used to describe herself after our interview.