Two Shelbys share soccer, sisters, type 1 diabetes and inspiration


In January, 9-year-old Shelby Scott – an avid soccer player from Almaden, CA – was running out of steam.  She was short on energy, had lost weight and was frequently thirsty – classic symptoms of diabetes.  When her pediatrician discovered her blood glucose levels were off the charts, he phoned the pediatric endocrinology service at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford and told them she was on her way over.

Shelby and her mom, Lisa Scott, were greeted at Packard Children’s Hospital by pediatric endocrinologist Daniel DeSalvo, MD, who diagnosed Shelby with type 1 diabetes. Explaining the ramifications of the disease to Shelby and her family, DeSalvo also told them he knew someone Shelby really had to meet – another Shelby, who also had type 1 diabetes, loved playing soccer and came to Packard Children’s for care.

That was 20-year-old Shelby Payne, a senior who plays forward on the Stanford Women’s Soccer team. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Christmas Day, 2004, Payne said she had no idea what diabetes was back then. But she learned.

“It can be hard to manage and really frustrating at times, but it is something that you can control,” says Payne, who has taken on the disease as a challenge.  She’s majoring in biology, planning to go to medical school next year and seriously considering becoming a pediatric endocrinologist – motivated in part by a desire to understand more about diabetes.

The two Shelbys met, and Payne ended up talking with Shelby and her family for a couple of hours, sharing her positive outlook on dealing with the disease, showing them the insulin pump she uses instead of giving herself shots and sharing tips on how she manages training for soccer with diabetes.

It can be scary, facing a lifetime of needles and pumps, knowing you’ll always have to pay attention to your diabetes. But after talking with Shelby Payne, young Shelby, now 10 years old, says, “I started thinking after that that it shouldn’t limit anyone.”

“She’s never once complained about her diabetes,” says her mom, Lisa. “When we first started doing her blood tests for her and giving her shots, that lasted maybe a month.   Then she was like, “No, I’ll just do it myself.”

Since their initial meeting, the Scotts have had Shelby Payne and her identical twin sister, Sydney, also a forward on the Stanford Women’s Soccer team, over for lunch. That’s when the Paynes met Shelby Scott’s sister – older by 2 years – who coincidentally is also named Sydney, and who – of course – plays soccer, too.  Neither of the two Sydneys has diabetes. The Scott girls have become fans of the Stanford team and when Shelby Scott had a chance to pick a new number on her team, the DeAnza Force, she opted for 6 – the number worn by Shelby Payne. Young Shelby has also decided she wants to attend Stanford and play for the Women’s Soccer team.

Shelby Scott, her parents and the Payne sisters have all joined TrialNet, an international collaboration of institutions – including Packard Children’s and Stanford – running clinical trials studying the development of type 1 diabetes in families, its prevention and early treatment.

“I think having a role model to look up to, someone with type 1 diabetes who has really succeeded in life, in sports and in academia, really gave Shelby Scott some peace of mind about her disease and helped her do a good job of managing her diabetes,” DeSalvo said.

That inspiration works both ways, according to Shelby Payne.

“I think little Shelby just has such a great attitude towards the disease,” she said. “When I see a little girl like that doing anything she wants to, working hard, playing soccer, every day, that attitude is infectious. She inspires me.”