Blue Circle Champions inspire others to take control of their diabetes
Managing Your Diabetes We talk to four of the IDF’s Blue Circle Champions about how they manage and how they hope to inspire others living with diabetes.
The Nascar racing driver was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 21. He continued to pursue his racing career while learning how to manage his diabetes and recently his son was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 8 months.
How has your diagnosis aged 21 affected your life?
Knowing, at any age, that you’re going to have something for the rest of your life is scary. You have to learn as much as you can in a short period of time so that you can take care of yourself and go back to a normal life.
How do you manage your diabetes and racing?
Managing my diabetes and racing starts with taking good care of myself every day of the week, not just at the track. I keep track of what I eat, exercise, test regularly and use insulin when I need it. At the track, I test before and after every time I get into the truck. I keep separate bottles of water and Gatorade in the truck so that if I feel my levels going one way or the other during the race, I can correct and stay hydrated.
Your son was recently diagnosed with diabetes, what advice would you give young people growing up with diabetes?
The best advice I can give is to try to understand and accept the disease, don’t fight against it. I fought for a while, and it took some time to realise that it’s better to have diabetes as your friend than your enemy. Take care of yourself and don’t let it stop you from doing anything in your life.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 7 months, doctors predicted he wouldn’t live past the age of 25. In 2005 he founded Team Type 1, an initiative to inspire those with diabetes to manage their condition better, and now in his 30s, Phil is proving the predictions wrong.
How did diabetes impact your life growing up?
Diabetes was an enormous part of my life. It forced me into a discipline that most children didn’t have. The need to check blood sugar and give myself injections were the key to living a good life. I was lucky to be a motivated young man, and at a young age I realised that controlling my diabetes often enabled better success in sport, and in life. It never held me back, and I hope every person with diabetes can see the power of good control.
How do you manage your diabetes day-to-day?
I am on a basal/bolus multiple daily injection therapy, and check my blood sugar 12-15 times each day. A big part of the good control is living a healthy life. I regularly exercise and try to eat a good diet. I am no different than any other person with Type 1. I have to think about every step I take and every calorie I eat, as they all have an impact on blood sugar. But to me it’s a game. I have a great health care team, and am lucky to be married to a doctor (Biljana) who is always trying to learn more about my diabetes.
You founded Team Type 1 with fellow cyclist Joe Eldridge who also has Type 1 diabetes, how important has sport been to your life with diabetes? For me, sport has been key to life. To be good at sport, I had to take control, and in taking control I was better at sport. It was a great circle that pushed me to be better at my diabetes management, and push for bigger goals in my sporting career.
TV chef and nephew of the late Bob Marley, Charles was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2011. Since his diagnosis, he has been campaigning to raise awareness of diabetes and is currently producing a film ‘The Diabetic You’.
How did you react to your diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes?
I was terrified, I thought I was going to die to be honest. I knew very little about diabetes in my late 30’s and that was something that was of serious concern. I knew at that point if I knew very little I had to help others who needed to either be educated or have some inspiration.
How have you used your experience to help others?
My goal is to be the biggest face in diabetes. If I can grab the exposure for the cause it means I am reaching the people. I now have a film that I’m wrapping up entitled The Diabetic You that has taken me around the world telling the stories of others with diabetes. I also am on the first RV diabetes tour that has me travelling all around America testing and educating people. I will be filming the first diabetes reality TV show — like the Biggest loser but for people with diabetes. So I have gone from celebrity chef to full time diabetes advocate.
What advice would you give to others living with diabetes?
Get educated and motivated. With Type 2, you can make many lifestyle changes to allow you to live a good life. Find a good doctor that truly cares and feed your body the best foods and water. Just like a car has quality oil, allow your body to have the best oil or foods it can have. Realise that life is precious and that it is worth the fight to stay healthy. It’s also so important that you share your story and encourage others to take care of themselves.
Bas van de Goor
The retired volleyball player was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2003. He has since set up the Bas van de Goor Foundation aimed at improving the quality of life for people with diabetes through sports.
What was your initial reaction to your diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes?
Disbelief, I didn’t know anybody with diabetes. I didn’t know the difference between Type 1 and 2. I couldn’t believe it had happened to me.
How has your diagnosis impacted your life?
At first I was shocked, but shortly afterwards I heard the story of Sir Steve Redgrave. He won an Olympic Gold medal with Type 1 diabetes which inspired me to continue playing sport. Right now diabetes leads an important role in my life, not only because I live with it. It has become my work to help to improve the quality of life for people with diabetes.
How do you manage your diabetes on a day-to-day basis?
I am a little bit chaotic which means I am not very regular with measuring. My Hba1c is 53. If I go over 60 or I don’t feel good I act more strictly. Right now I feel I have my diabetes under control and I am living a nice life.
How have you used your diagnosis to inspire others with diabetes?
I feel very priviliged to work with my three colleagues and a lot of medical professionals to share knowledge, experiences and inspiration with people with diabetes in the Netherlands through the Bas van de Goor Foundation.