Brec Bassinger, 17, is best known for her starring role as Bella Dawson on Nickelodeon's “Bella and the Bulldogs,” but you might not know that Bassinger juggles her busy acting schedule while managing type 1 diabetes (T1D). Her routine involves regular finger pricks to check her blood sugar, a lifelong dependence on insulin and constant carb counting — but she doesn’t let the disease slow her down.

A life-changing diagnosis

When Bassinger was 8 years old, she was preparing for a world beauty pageant and had no idea her life was about to change. Bassinger began experiencing weight loss, moodiness, and an unquenchable thirst. Her mother researched the symptoms online, and all signs pointed to T1D. “I remember feeling very confused,” said Bassinger. “I was too young to know exactly what was happening, but old enough to know it was a big deal.” After a series of tests, doctors confirmed Bassinger’s diagnosis: type 1 diabetes.

T1D is an autoimmune disease that affects millions of children and adults worldwide, and there is currently no cure. It is unpreventable and unrelated to diet or lifestyle. T1D occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone our bodies need to regulate blood sugar and get energy from food. Managing T1D is a continuous struggle to prevent life-threatening highs and lows in blood sugar and other complications.

“The artificial pancreas is a historic breakthrough for the T1D community and shows why supporting JDRF is so important.”

Life-saving treatment

Despite daily challenges, Bassinger has had an active career and recently filmed a new movie, “Status Update,” which is coming to theaters in 2017. Advances in T1D treatment have helped her live life to the fullest. “I used to use syringes, but now I use pens. I also just got a new blood-glucose meter that syncs with my phone, and I love using that.”

She and her family have been involved with JDRF, the leading global organization funding T1D research, ever since Bassinger was diagnosed. Recently, JDRF’s decade-long effort to pave the way for an “artificial pancreas” device led to the FDA’s approval of Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G, a cellphone-sized, wearable device that makes insulin dosing mostly automatic. “The artificial pancreas is a historic breakthrough for the T1D community and shows why supporting JDRF is so important,” said Bassinger.

While Bassinger is grateful for these advances, she is also fighting for a cure. Recently named a JDRF Celebrity Ambassador, Bassinger is raising awareness and fundraising to support JDRF’s mission to cure, prevent and treat T1D. During National Diabetes Awareness Month, you can help Bassinger and JDRF fight T1D by showing your support on the JDRF website.