Elle & Coach
By Stefany Shaheen w/Mark Dagostino
When her oldest daughter, eight-year-old Elle, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Stefany Shaheen confronted a terrifying new reality: without constant monitoring and treatment, Elle could face grim consequences, even death.
Treatment meant administering shots of insulin, and testing blood sugar levels by pricking tiny fingers with a needle eight to ten times per day. Every day. Every meal. Every snack. Every time Elle played outside or went to theater rehearsals or dance lessons. When Elle’s blood sugar levels repeatedly dropped without warning in the middle of the night, Stefany lay awake filled with worry, and the stress of it all took its toll on the entire family. Elle, a vibrant young girl who refuses to be defined or limited by this disease, devoted herself to the fight to find a cure – a journey that brought her face-to-face with top scientists and doctors through clinical trials, and all the way to the White House. But the struggles and worry remained.
Along the way, Stefany and Elle heard stories about the growing field of medic-alert dogs: four-legged friends who are celebrated for having the ability to detect seizures, soothe patients with PTSD, and astonishingly, alert people with diabetes when blood sugar levels rise too high or fall too low.
In the ongoing search for some relief and in an effort to make life better, they decided to give a dog a try.
Enter an adorable, hardworking yellow Lab named Coach. When he joined the family, life gradually improved. Elle seemed at ease for the first time since her diagnosis, and her family instantly fell in love with Coach. But Stefany’s skepticism lingered. Could a dog really make a meaningful difference in Elle’s life? Would Coach have a positive effect on her health?
In a journey marked by struggle, humor, and inspiration, we arrive at a triumphant answer.
A compelling story of overcoming, Elle & Coach reminds us of the power of the human-animal connection, and the profound nature of a mother’s love for her daughter.