At 17, Nicole is a sprinter and jumper for her school’s track team; a soccer player; a ballet, tap, and jazz dancer; and a member of her school’s drama club, in addition to being an ace student. You’d hardly think that she could find time to be sick. But she did.

It started in eighth grade. She spent that whole year and the following summer being really sick: stomach pain, severe nausea, and debilitating memory loss. When it continued into her freshman year in high school, her mother took her to Connecticut Children’s, where the Gastroenterology Division specialists determined she had celiac disease—an intolerance of gluten. So Nicole stopped eating foods and drinks with gluten. And that should have solved the problem. But it didn’t.

She continued being sick, which mystified everyone, until one day when a friend playfully punched her in the stomach and raised a bruise that wouldn’t go away. So it was back to Connecticut Children’s, where doctors found that she also had type 1 diabetes.

She needed regular injections of insulin—not good news for a young woman with a massive fear of needles. At first her mother, Laurie, did her injections, and then Nicole worked up the courage to do it herself. Today, she has an insulin pump that takes care of her needs, and that’s a real blessing.

Both diseases require constant vigilance from Nicole, and she needs to make a lot of special arrangements to live a teenager’s busy life, but the expert care at Connecticut Children’s and her indomitable spirit sees her through.