By: Scott M. King
"Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story" – John Barth. Here at Diabetes Health, we call our May issue the "heroes issue." Why? Because, beginning about five years ago, we started giving nearly 15,000 copies of this issue to diabetes camps all over the United States. In each year's May issue, we like to feature people we think of as heroes.
Perhaps it's my own perception, but I believe that every child needs a hero to look up to. This may be especially true for those who are dealing with diabetes. I remember that when I was first diagnosed, I wanted to know that there was somebody else out there who was also struggling with diabetes and who, despite that, met even the most challenging goals and succeeded in doing things that not many others—even those without diabetes—could do.
While our past "heroes issues" have focused on stars—sports stars, Hollywood stars and stellar achievers in other fields—this issue focuses on what we came to call "everyday heroes." Unlike the Jason Johnsons, Gary Halls or Chris Dudleys—the heroes who are the top achievers in their fields—the people featured in this issue are individuals you may not have heard of. Yet these people, too, have reached the heights despite the adversity of having diabetes.
Some have literally reached the heights. Before this issue, had you heard of Midge Cross, who set out to climb Mount Everest? Or Douglas Cairns, who became the first person with type 1 diabetes to fly an airplane around the world? Or John Dennis, pictured on our cover, who, in pursuing his dream, was instrumental in getting a company to develop a fund that can help others follow their own dreams?
My favorite heroes in this issue could be the ones Henry David Thoreau was thinking about when he wrote, "The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."
Make that "people."
One is a boy named Alex Isenstadt, who, as he began to become an adult, was diagnosed with diabetes and believed that it was the end of his independence. His story takes us on his journey as he learns to "turn lemons into lemonade" and determines that what he first considered a hindrance was his key to a world of even greater independence and responsibility.
Another hero is a young mother named Faye Wells, who suddenly, and quite literally, held her child's life in her hands—just as all you parents of children who have diabetes have done.
In fact, I believe that every one living with diabetes is a hero. We live with daily challenges—that others never have to face—in all our everyday tasks, not to mention those tasks at which we strive to excel.
"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." – Joseph Campbell
Let's not forget the other heroes in our lives: the countless people all over the world involved in all aspects of diabetes care and research.
It is the tireless and most often unrecognized efforts of all the professionals who work in research, treatment and patient care that have made such an enormous difference in the lives that we are able to lead. These individuals have certainly heeded the call to action in their efforts to improve and even lengthen the lives of people with diabetes.
Look around and see if there is a "hero" in your life—perhaps a parent, a child, a doctor or an educator. Perhaps it's someone who gets through the ordinary act of living with a chronic disease day after day, or maybe it's someone who has achieved the extraordinary.
Let that person know that he or she is your hero, just as I would like you to know that all of you are my heroes.