For Johnson, being diagnosed with diabetes was a life-changing moment. While other fourth graders learned long division, she learned to how to monitor her blood glucose by testing a drop of blood from her finger. She also learned how to inject a dose of insulin during a diabetic attack.
"They educated me, helped me gain better understanding of what diabetes meant," she said of the doctors who diagnosed her. "Before that I had never heard of type 2 diabetes, even though my mom had it. I never knew what she took that medication for. Now we're each other's reminder."
While there is no cure, type 2 diabetes is manageable.
"We have treatments, and that's a good thing. But these treatments are very burdensome," said Cuttler. "You think of carefree, spontaneous children. You can't be so carefree and spontaneous when you have to take care of diabetes."
Now an 18-year-old high school senior, Johnson takes metformin twice a day to keep her diabetes under control. Small portion sizes and daily workouts with her school's track-and-field team also keep her blood sugar levels in check, and help her maintain her body weight.
"Diabetes is no joke," said Johnson, who will attend Bowling Green State University in the fall. "If you don't take care of yourself, it can be deadly."