Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fight Cancer & Diabetes at the Same Time!!

Hey, you hate cancer, right? Me too!!! I'm ambivalent about the Diabetes, as you might have read. It's not that I think everyone should have it, or even that it is a good thing to have to deal with it. But for me personally, doing diabetes (not having it) has helped me to become a much more healthy person.

But cancer, well, with cancer there is no such equivocation. There are unbelievable things about cancer as a disease, but none of them are good. And so when I come across ways to fight cancer AND fight diabetes (or help others do those things), well I simply can't pass those up.

So there's this guy who calls himself The Fat Cyclist, or Fatty for short. His real name is Elden, and he is a great human. He and I have a lot of things in common (see what I did there?). He used to be a tech writer. I teach tech writing. He works in the software industry, so did I (and do still, even though I'm also a professor). He's hilarious. And I'm hilarious! Also, both of us are good with a joke.

But the thing that is perhaps not so obvious: we both have before and after shots that look something like this:
Yep, that picture on the left is me as a fat cyclist, small "f," small "c". About 70lbs heavier, to be precise, than the me on the right. More importantly, that picture on the left is me as a cyclist with all the Type II diabetes risk factors over the limit in the red zone. Blood pressure, lipids, blood glucose...you name it. Today, I manage all those risk factors with my bike as the most important arrow in the quiver. Ok, who are we kidding: bikes. There are, uh, lots of bikes. But no prescription meds. No metformin. No ACE inhibitors. No statins. No beta blockers. Just me and bike and reasonable restraint on the eating side (mostly).

Change Your Life or Someone Else's
So me and Fatty, well, I like to think we understand one another. Fatty lost his wife Susan to cancer. My wife and I lost her Father and a dear friend of ours to cancer in the same year. That friend, Vic, also had T1 diabetes. My Father is fighting cancer now. When you love somebody fighting cancer, you are by turns grateful for and furious with the available weapons - clinicians call them "interventions" - for the battle. There are, on the one hand, many. But never enough. They've come a long way. But not far enough or fast enough. See cancer, as a disease, is especially insidious because it is a problem with the very way our bodies heal: by growing new cells. Cancer grows, changes, and adapts. And for any one person, it does this faster than we can develop new interventions to throw at it.

Not so, diabetes. Diabetes is also a disease concerned with the very fundamentals of our existence: how we process food into energy that our cells can use. But for most patients - T1 and T2 and other variants - there are things we can do to manage symptoms and, especially, to manage the other risk factors that are life-threatening. We can fight. And for some of us who get diagnosed early enough with T2, we can do a lot to fight back.

I took the whole thing very personally. I did not see a way to NOT fight my T2 after watching people I love die of a disease they had very few options to fight. And I'm still fighting. But not just for myself.

Fun(d) Raising
Since 2007, I've been raising money for Diabetes research. And I'm doing it again this year. I do it by...surprise!...riding my bike. In a ride called the Tour de Cure. You can donate to my campaign for the June 2013 ride here. Last year, we raised over $3,000! All told, I've raised a bit more than $10,000 for the American Diabetes Association.

To boost that effort, I've also been doing a crazy ride that Fatty dreamed up that supports a cancer charity called the 100 Miles of Nowhere. Here's what I did last year: 3000 laps of my circle driveway (almost...see the link). That little stunt got me on Fatty's blog and in the list of crazy people doing crazy things. And I'm fixin' to do that again.

You can help me pick the route! Go here to vote. And drop back by here to find out the winning route!

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