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Living big: Life with diabetes

Today, 1.1 million children and adolescents are living with type 1 diabetes worldwide.

When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be an overwhelming event for them and all of their loved ones. From daily sugar level checks to injections, a lot can change overnight. However, there are countless ways to help these children live happy, healthy and full lives.

Thanks to the discovery of insulin 100 years ago by researchers Frederick Banting, Charles Best, John MacLeod and James Collip, millions of lives have been saved, and people living with diabetes can be whatever they wish to be. Today, there are Olympic athletes, professional hockey players, politicians, actors, rock stars and CEOs living with diabetes. Because of this discovery and the medical innovations that are advancing every year, children can live long, healthy lives by learning to manage their disease through insulin intake, eating the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and exercising.

According to Reid Sutherland, an 11-year-old from Nova Scotia living with diabetes, checking his sugar levels is just “one of the things that makes [his] day-to-day life different from his friends.” Nevertheless, Reid doesn’t let diabetes stop him from playing his favourite sports like hockey and baseball, or doing all the things he wants to do. Reid is an inspiration to all children living with diabetes and wanted to share his experience with others.

Mark Woolley, a defenseman with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 12-years-old. Mark has turned his diagnosis into another victory with his not-for-profit, Woolley’s Warriors, who raise money to help send more children with diabetes to “D-Camps.” These are summer camps designed specifically for children living with diabetes.

Mark is determined to overcome every obstacle in his way and to live the life he wants to live. He is proof that anything is possible, regardless of one’s diagnosis.

In the next 100 years, we hope these experiences become a thing of the past and are simply tales of bravery and triumph. Because of the kindness of men like Mark, and the bravery of children like Reid, we can keep the conversation alive and share hope with others.

As Reid rightly put it, “Some people don’t know how hard it can be.” With the release of our two new commemorative two-dollar coins in circulation this year, we can share with the world the struggles and victories that people living with diabetes face every day, and hopefully, we can take a step towards finding a cure.

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