Thank you very much for reading my words here agin, or I should say ‘Arigato Guzaymus’. I have been toin Japan which I have now visited 5 times for activities pertaining to diabetes. Every time I come here I am encouraged and inspired by the patient and polite nature of the people here. These traits typically are not associated with motivation and ambition, however the people here possess a quiet, composed optimism and confidence. The benefits of this outlook on life are obvious in the success of this great country. These character traits are of course also very beneficial when it comes to living with Type1 Diabetes.
I have the spent the past week here getting involved with some really amazing work instigated by the Novo Nordisk affiliate here. We have been attending a number of kids summer camps designed specifically for children living with diabetes. At these camps I was lucky enough to lead a series of one hour workshops where I shared my story and then sat down with the campers discussing what their goals in life are, how diabetes might make these more challenging and then how we might push through these challenges. I met dozens of kids who had dreams to be anything from a baker of nice cakes to a professional baseball player. A whole spectrum of dreams:-). We of course discovered that we CAN push through ALL of the challenges we encounter with T1 diabetes as long as we remember our key ingredients for life with diabetes (Insulin and Inspiration).
It was really nice to see such happy faces on these kids whom are at an age where dealing with diabetes is I believe more difficult than at any other age. These kids however had an advantage over many other people living with diabetes in that they had the courage to turn up to a diabetes camp. These camps provide these kids with a whole group of extra team mates in their ‘diabetes team’. They spend up to a week together day and night doing all kinds of activities and workshops like the one I was a part of. They chat about all things in life including diabetes and I believe being surrounded by other positive people with diabetes is one of the biggest benefits in our lives. This helps bring down the issue of diabetes, at least for a few days it is ‘normal’ to have to inject insulin and check blood sugar levels. They are allowed to be free from the stigma of living with this condition. Being a part of these type of diabetes networking programs encourages the participants to not be ashamed of their condition and instead be loud and proud about being diabetic. Which as I have written about earlier is a huge issue in this country.
Many of the kids carry the friendships they make at these events through their life for many years. I met a group of staff members at one of the camps whom were 18-20 years old and met at this camp in their early teenage years. They were ‘diabetes mates’ and came back to the camp each year to volunteer helping the younger campers. Being able to speak openly and freely about diabetes in a situation outside of the hospital or doctors office is SO IMPORTANT not just for personal feelings but also for diabetes management. The wider the diabetes team is for the patient the greater the motivation. I have seen this to be true everywhere I have travelled. I know when I joined Team Novo Nordisk and was surrounded by 16 other diabetics nearly day and night I was more aware, less inhibited and more motivated with managing my condition.
The TEAM we need around us to live with diabetes is a broad one. Growing up in Australia I am very appreciative to have had good endo’s, dietitians, nurse educators and insulin companies helping me with the ingredients I need to live. The fact I now have a huge team around me all encouraging my life has been the main reason I have been able to achieve what I have. Anything that is worthwhile is never possible alone. All members of this team are very important, however in Japan I got to chat with many endocrinologists whom were especially encouraged by my story and presentation. They informed me that the vast majority of the patients they see are struggling with feelings of despair and injustice pertaining to their diabetes. These doctors were so grateful to receive some encouragement even though they themselves do not live with diabetes. I can imagine it is very difficult to remain positive & upbeat for your patients when you are dealing dozens of negative attitudes every single working day. These patients are perhaps the one’s most in need to hear great stories like that of Team Novo Nordisk but it is true that in running motivating events for people with diabetes we are quite often preaching to the converted. The doctors I met were so happy to be able to bring some good news to their patients whom really are in need of a positive voice in their diabetes lives.
Many people struggle in silence, not just with diabetes but with many challenges and issues in life. I know and I hope by promoting the value of the TEAM with organisations like Team Novo Nordisk we can help at least people with diabetes to embrace the community that is out there waiting for them. Sometimes we might have to reach those people that are in need through someone like their doctor or nurse educator but I know that my team it has made a world of difference in my life and I am very happy to be a part some other people’s team also. The wider the team, the stronger the team.
From now on, I have some racing goals coming up specifically at the ‘Tour of East Timor’ mountain bike race which will be my next big ‘challenge’ on the bike. I am also excited to be speaking at the JDRF ‘kids in the house’ event at the parliament house in Canberra which should be a blast chatting to some more ‘team mates’.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog.
Until next time.
After receiving a diagnosis of type1 diabetes at age ten, Justin’s dreams and goals in life were threatened. Turning to cycling to help him cope with type1 diabetes quickly proved to not only be beneficial but also the start to a successful pro cycling career. Justin spent five years as a professional in road cycling travelling the world racing his bike. Dealing with the challenges of sport and diabetes across five different continents has given Justin a wealth of stories and knowledge about dealing with challenges on and off the bike.
Having since transitioned from a pro cycling career to completing two university degrees in psychology and education from Macquarie University in 2015 and being awarded with a University Blues Award for excellence in sport and academics. Justin continues to fuel his competitive streak with multi day mountain bike racing for team SubarumarathonMTB.com, having achieved podium finishes at The Crocodile Trophy, The Simpson Desert BikeChallenge, The Pioneer in New Zealand and The Mongolia Bike Challenge.
Since 2011 Justin has complemented his cycling career with sharing a message of hope, empowerment and overcoming adversity to audiences internationally.