Saturday, May 22, 2010

Diabetes Advocate - Tour de Cure

This summer I have signed up to ride in the ADA Tour de Cure, to help raise money for diabetes research. I joined the "Red Riders" team, which is a team of local diabetics. This week the lead for the Washington DC area wrote to me and asked me to write my story to be published in her monthly Diabetes Advocate Newsletter. I am both excited and honored! :0) Here is what I've submitted....enjoy!

When I was 6 years old, I dreamt of lakes—giant lakes that stretched as far as the eye could see, of beautiful clean, crisp water. In my dreams I would walk over to the lake, put my face down to it, and drink the entire lake. I would see the boats get lower and lower, and yet I would keep drinking.

That was 30 years ago. To say I was thirsty is an understatement. I dreamt of drinking more than anything else. I thought about it constantly. I would drink until my stomach was upset, and still be thirsty. Then in a snowstorm in 1979 my concerned parents took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was immediately placed on insulin. For the first time I could remember I wasn’t thirsty. I didn’t dream of drinking lakes.

I grew up before there were blood testing meters, before A1c testing, before nutritional information was available on foods, and before NutraSweet. I was the kid who went trick or treating, but wasn’t allowed to eat the candy. I was the kid who couldn’t drink the Gatorade at halftime during soccer games. I was different. But being different, being healthy and monitoring my diabetes, whether it was done by my parents when I was young, or myself later in life, is what has kept me alive. It has also kept me from having any number of diabetic side effects like blindness, heart attack, stroke, or neuropathy.

Recently I have discovered and experienced a new range of diabetic side effects while I have gone through surgery, extensive chemotherapy, and radiation in my battle with breast cancer. I have struggled with severe lows, as well as extreme highs as I went on and off the steroids involved with chemo. It was during this period that I realized two things: first, there is not enough help and support out there for diabetics, and second, you are responsible for your own health—only you can control your actions. So, I vowed to help give back, to share my story, and offer advice to anyone going through a similar situation, as well to never live another day taking my health for granted.

I have fought all of my life to prove to everyone that diabetics can do anything non-diabetics can do. I have not let my disease stop me from living my life; in fact I have used it to propel me into living life more fully. I have hiked through Tuscany, biked the entire C&O Canal and have gone skydiving, and snorkeling. I have run a half marathon with my tester in my back pocket, and walked 39 miles for Breast Cancer research. It is with this passion that I look forward to the Tour de Cure 100K ride in June.

I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since I was 6 years old. I have lived through the advancements in new insulin types, smaller and less painful syringes, and the invention of blood testing meters. The advancements that have been made in 30 years are remarkable and inspiring. I am riding in the Tour de Cure this year in the hopes that this progress continues.

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