“It’s a twenty-four hour job. It never stops. You always have to be aware.” A Family’s Story of Type 1 Diabetes.
The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Sunday, October 16 and part of the event is the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. We encourage all runners to run for charities and make their experience racing that much richer, when they’re able to give back and serve the community at large. To that effect, we’re spotlighting people who have benefitted from some of the charities that are part of the event. “If you’re not running for something, you’re just chasing the wind,” says Wesley Korir. Let’s chase more than PBs. Let’s chase a better world.
Thomas Vaillancourt and his family for the Canadian Diabetes Association
Thomas was diagnosed in 2011 Type 1 Diabetes at five years old. His younger sister, Elea was just two years old when Thomas was diagnosed, but hasn’t yet to leave his side. His father, Martin, and mother, Isabelle, are both runners and avid supporters of the Canadian Diabetes Association. Since 2012, Martin has run for Canadian Diabetes twice in Kauai and the Vaillancourt family have been avid volunteers at running races.
I ran a race that morning for the Ronald McDonald House, by the end of the day, we were at McMaster with our son Thomas. His blood sugar was so low that night, he almost slipped into a coma—he almost died on me. That night, my son was diagnosed with the incurable: Type 1 Diabetes.
Every morning it’s a blessing he’s alive. He could fall into a diabetic coma. You live with this fear all the time. Sometimes, you forget the gravity of his condition—the threat Type 1 Diabetes poses to his life. Thomas will be a teenager and tasked with a new challenge: entrusting him to make his own choices. Everything he eats and drinks could put his livelihood at risk. The nights are scary. But the daily challenges are our battlefield.
It’s been five years since I was diagnosed. I was only five at the time. I don’t remember much. When I was told I had Type 1 Diabetes, I didn’t know what it meant. They told me there wasn’t a cure. I was scared.
Even worse. I was scared of needles. Being told that I had to check my blood sugar every day, prick myself every time I ate was terrifying. I stopped eating, and while in the hospital, I stayed on an IV drip for four straight days. My parents took video games away, next TV privileges were gone. I cracked. But you see, at the time, my reasoning was simple: no food meant no needle.
Nowadays taking my blood sugar before every meal isn’t a big fuss. It’s my new normal. Before any bite of food enters my mouth, I prick my finger. Prick. Eat. Repeat. If this system fails… so does my body. I start to feel shaky. I start to sweat. I get mad. But that doesn’t keep me on the sidelines. I play basketball. I’m the tallest guy on my team – six feet! I run with my dad. I hope to run with him in Hawaii soon.
I want to run for and say thanks to the Canadian Diabetes Association. Whenever I hear of people raising money for the cause or see them running for Canadian Diabetes, I feel so thankful. Thank you for doing this.
I help Thomas make good food choices. I know that when my brother doesn’t get enough sugar, he feels unwell. I keep an eye on him. I have his back – I hope he knows that!
My mom told me that the night Thomas was diagnosed, I slept with him. I never left his side. I may have been only two at the time, but I could sense something was wrong. So I stuck by him.
One day I want to run a marathon with my whole family for the Canadian Diabetes Association. If I ever saw someone running for the cause I’d run over to them and give them a huge hug. I’d want to say thank you.
The most overwhelming thing about raising a child with diabetes? It’s a twenty-four hour job. No breaks. It never stops. You always have to be aware. It’s always on your mind.
Since his diagnosis, we’re incredibly close, just out of the sheer fact that I gave him the majority of his injections. This wasn’t a request or insistence—he refused anyone else’s touch. Now that he’s grown up, this fear has slipped away. Our new challenge: supplying him with the tools to live with Type 1 Diabetes in his teenage years and throughout adulthood.
Thanks to the money raised by Canadian Diabetes, we see improvement every three months when we visit the hospital. From improvement in care to technology, the money raised is manifesting itself right before our eyes. With these huge strides and this momentum, I’m optimistic that Thomas will see a cure in his lifetime. I’m hopeful. And want to thank everyone who runs for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
October 3rd, 2016