Type 1 Diabetes: An Uphill Climb
Advocacy Professional snowboarder Sean Busby is urging others to take the T1D for a Day text challenge to find out what it's like to walk, or ride, a mile in someone else's shoes.
I am one of millions of people who live with type-1 diabetes (T1D), and one of as many as 3 million people with the disease in the United States. Each of us – both children and adults – has a unique T1D story. Mine began in 2004 when I was a 19-year-old professional snowboarder, full of excitement as I focused on my dream of competing in the 2010 Olympics. It was a time when everything seemed possible, until my health began to quickly and mysteriously deteriorate. In July of that year, I was diagnosed with T1D, and my life changed completely. My snowboarding dreams seemed to drift further from reach as I was thrust into a confusing new world of constant blood glucose monitoring, multiple daily insulin injections, and endless carbohydrate counting.
A day in the life
My story is one of so many, but what we all have in common is a disease that is all too often misunderstood, and that requires an immense amount of hard work to manage. People with T1D are doing amazing things and living full lives, but most people don’t realize how difficult it can be to do so.
Throughout the month of November – National Diabetes Awareness Month – I’m honored to be a part of a challenge to help more people understand what it’s like to live with T1D. JDRF is providing the public a chance to step into my shoes for 24 hours and get a glimpse of what life is like for one of the millions of people living with this disease with the free T1D for a Day text challenge. Any day in November, text T1D4ADAY to 63566 and within the hour you’ll begin receiving text messages from me explaining in real-time the activities of my day and how they affect my blood sugar.
I hope through this challenge, you will be motivated by the resilience and drive that emerges in people with T1D. After my diagnosis, I was inspired by the stories of persistence and perspective of children with T1D, and as a result I began to take back my dreams and help others by founding a nonprofit called Riding On Insulin that empowers others to pursue action sports with T1D.
Busby, riding deep in some powder in the backcountry of Iceland's Northwest Fjords, March 2011. Photo: Rúnar Karlsson
Over the years, I’ve learned how to navigate the challenges of having T1D as a professional backcountry snowboarder—from maintaining my blood glucose levels in sub-zero temperatures to recognizing the unique impacts of altitude, humidity, climate, and adrenaline. On my website, my wife, Mollie, and I share our adventures in the hopes of encouraging everyone affected by T1D to keep dreaming big and living active lives.
Encouraging everyone affected by T1D to keep dreaming big and living active lives.
Turning type-1 into type none
We are making great progress toward ridding the world of T1D through research. Thanks to advancements by JDRF, the world’s leading charitable funder of T1D research, and scientists from around the world, people with T1D are living longer and healthier lives. Programs like the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), funded by the federal government, offer real hope of turning “type-1” into “type none” through life-changing treatments, prevention and eventually a cure.
We need as many people like you – whether or not you have T1D – on our side as advocates for continued funding by Congress of the SDP, so that critical ongoing trials can continue to make progress.
In the meantime, we must continue to spread awareness and ban together. By taking JDRF’s T1D for a Day challenge and sharing your experience with friends, you are helping to grow our community of support, and that is an integral part in the fight against T1D.