Living courageously

Mary Noffke receives Joslin Diabetes Center Medal

Mary Noffke

A Webster City woman recently received an honor for living courageously with Type I Diabetes.

Mary Noffke received the Joslin Diabetes Center Medal for surviving diabetes for 50 years. Noffke is one of 3,500 individuals across the world to have this medal.

“I’m pretty happy about this,” Noffke said.

The award is named after diabetes research pioneer Elliott P. Joslin, who attended Yale and Harvard Medical school. The Joslin Diabetes Center is an independent non-profit associated with Harvard Medical school in Boston, MA. According to the Joslin Diabetes website, the award program dates back to 1948, when Dr. Joslin, who wanted to acknowledge the accomplishment of managing insulin-dependent diabetes over the long term, began awarding his patients certificates for living with diabetes for more than 25 years.

Noffke has been managing Type I Diabetes for 52 years with insulin since she was diagnosed during her sophomore year of college in 1965. She has been using an insulin pump since 1997. The Mayo Clinic defines Type I Diabetes as “once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, it is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin.”

“The point of this award is to show that diabetes is survivable if you take care of yourself,” Noffke said.

Tremendous breakthroughs in technology led to Noffke being able to use a glucometer to check her own blood sugar.

“The pump and glucometer add years to people’s lives,” said Noffke.

Before having a glucometer, she would only be able to check her blood sugar every three months. She used a special test strip in between.

“It wasn’t real easy to know when you got low until you got sick,” Noffke said. “It was a tremendous step forward when I could check my own sugar.”

She currently checks her blood sugar seven times a day.

“I’m so grateful to people who have donated to diabetes research,” said Noffke.

Noffke applied for the award during the beginning of 2017 and received her medal in the mail three weeks ago. The application process included getting medical documentation that she was diabetic and had been taking care of herself properly and was using insulin throughout her journey with diabetes. Her endocrinologist sent in information along with her husband, Duane, who wrote a letter detailing the time he spent learning how to give her injections and her dietary regulations.

It took nearly six weeks to get all of the necessary information put together and sent to Massachusetts.

Individuals with Type I Diabetes can apply to receive a certificate after 25 years of living with diabetes and taking care of oneself. Those who have lived with the disease for 50 years can receive a bronze medal. Individuals who have battled the disease for 75 or 80 years can receive a Victory Award Medal.

Other individuals who wish to apply for the 50-year medal may visit