We R the Cure

Seeking Cures and Cheating Destiny


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My Aunt Mary Jane: After 70 years of struggle, she’s still “kicking” back at Type 1 diabetes & cheating destiny

Every picture tells a story.  Yet it doesn’t tell the full story — especially when a chronic disease like Type 1 diabetes is lurking below the scene.  Over the next few months, I’d like to tell some summer mini-stories dedicated to my Aunt Mary Jane, who recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a party in Nellysford, VA.

If anyone lives to the age of 80, they’ve overcome a lot of odds. If you add a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis at age 7,  a complete lack of any blood glucose testing systems, and throw in four children to raise,  and you’ve got a lifetime challenge. Mary Jane tells me diabetes took over her life one day when her sister, my mother – Cecilia, and her younger brother– John, came home from preschool with the mumps.

Aunt MJ2_Birthday

My Aunt Mary Jane Dull Hoffman, center, is celebrating her 80th Birthday in April at her homeplace in Nellysford, VA with two of her “favorite” nephews, Phil and me ( Front Right). We are joined by my wife, Lisa, my children Cecilia and Nathaniel, and Phil’s daughter Sammie.

“I’d rather they brought me the mumps, instead,”  said Mary Jane. “They got over the mumps in a few weeks. That virus is what cause me to have diabetes for a lifetime. That’s my biggest gripe with diabetes:  it’s too much to do. Do this, do that…Every day it’s something else to do. I’ve done a lot of it by the seat of my pants.”

And then Mary Jane smiles:  “Since I don’t have my feet anymore, it’s a good thing I’m flying by the seat of my pants most of the time.” After you stop laughing at the irony of a T1D who is a Joslin Medalist honored for “surviving ” diabetes, you see clearly what diabetic complications really mean. Feet are gone. And she’s the lucky one.  And then you realize: Diabetes continues to suck and if I don’t manage my Type 1 like a mad man — I could lose my feet and a lot more.

Here’s my goal in highlighting Mary Jane’s story:  To show that surviving Type 1 diabetes requires effort, luck and stubborn commitment to each day being better than the day before. In order to beat diabetes — which we have not done yet — a person also needs a healthy dose of  kiss-my-butt craziness.  When you’re sick on the inside but you look perfectly “healthy” on the outside, it’s not easy to generate a sense of urgency for more research, more awareness, and more money.

My other goal here:  To announce that I’m riding again in the JDRF RIDE FOR A CURE at Amelia Island, FLA on Oct. 30, 2016 and that all the money I raise — thanks to all my compassionate supporters — will go to JDRF and its support of Dr. Boris Kovatchev and the researchers at the Center for Diabetes Technology at the University of Virginia. The CDT team in Charlottesville is part of a five member university consortium still trying to bring an Artificial Pancreas System to reality. Funds raised support worldwide human clinical trials required to convince the FDA that it’s time to approve an AP or a bionic pancreas which will deliver better glucose control and fewer serious medical complications to persons living with T1D.

(I will add a blog update on my current participation in the ” Project Nightlight” Home AP trial — 3 weeks are done and the closed loop is working exactly as advertised — nighttime under control.)

I’m not a young man any more — so it comes down to this:  My marathon journey for a cure has become a sprint to the finish line. It’s like the riding the final stage.  Aunt Mary Jane was promised a cure when she was first diagnosed in the 1940s.  Seventy years later, the promises are still being made and we’re still pedaling up hill with our real and artificial feet!

Aunt Mary Jane and I may not cross the ultimate finish line — A cure to Type 1 diabetes without tech solutions, but we want to be counted as two people who tried to make it happen. Together, We R the Cure.

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Artificial Pancreas Closed Loop System


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Project Nightlight: Taking another trip to Sugarland, trying to make dreams come true for T1Ds

Starting last week, I enrolled in a new clinical trial at the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVA. It has a cool code name: Project Nightlight.

The study purpose: to see if an investigational type of technology ( an integrated Artificial Pancreas system using the newest InControl diabetes management platform from TypeZero Technologies) can help control blood glucose levels and can be successfully used and supervised remotely in a non-hospital setting like — My HOME!!!

Studies like this one at UVA are happening in 2016 and 2017 — to demonstrate to the FDA that an AP with a smart brain in a smartphone can go “home” with your average T1D ( who is already smart, cool and well-managed) and deliver a safe and revolutionary tech solution for BG control. Thereby, removing some of the 24 hours, 7 days, 365 days per year attention that is normally required to keep a “normal BG range.”

Week 1: Study participants traveled to Charlottesville to change out their own insulin pump for the study insulin pump system — Accu Check Spirit Combo. Getting used to a new pump, learning how-to-change and prime your pump, searching for little tiny insulin bubbles in a long, long inset tube — is not a thrill. The 4 of us did it together with a certified diabetes educator and only used our “first names” and our study ID number to maintain our anonymity. Oops, until I just posted this?

Week 2: I had to do homework. Homework? Yes. Really. Participants were asked to answer 7 survey questionnaires about life with T1D. I took my position on the couch and answered all those detailed questions around — “how BIG of a pain in the butt” is Type 1 diabetes. I used the same answer — T1D is a chronic disease that is sometimes invisible to others — to all of the survey questions. It stinks. But you learn to manage and keep trying for a better A1c and less deviation between your Highs and your Lows.

This week, we reconvene at UVA to learn “what” is “InControl platform” and how we’ll use it to run “open loop” control in the daytime and ” closed loop” — while I sleep. We’ll go home at COB with the trial system ON and try to pretend it’s just another day in Sugarland! Stay tuned for more updates here  www.werthecure.com  or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.  Together, we are the cure.  — Mike


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Seeking Cures, Cheating Destiny: “It’s Time to Wake Up and Smell the Cure — We R the Cure”

“We are the world, we are the children, We are the ones who make a brighter day, So let’s start giving. There’s a choice we’re making, We’re saving our own lives. It’s true we’ll make a better day, Just you and me … We R the Cure!”  

Mike Anderson Ride to Cure Type 1 Diabetes Photo

Yes, I’m riding again to cure diabetes with JDRF. Training has started. Our Central Virginia Chapter Team is riding Oct. 31, 2015  — Halloween Saturday — in Nashville, TN.

The signs are obvious: It’s time for a blog Comeback. Easy to say, hard to do. However, blogging is more about therapy and communication than about setting social media records. I am a proud member of the #DOC — Diabetes Online Community, and I am an advocate for better health care through research and technology. I am sorry I’ve been a dark page recently, but the good news is I am not a diabetes statistic today. I am one in 3 million Americans — an achiever battling against the odds and celebrating each day without complications.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting Sebastien Sasseville for dinner in Richmond. I will post by recap of that chance encounter. In a nutshell, Sebastien is amazing and inspiring. Covering nearly 7500 km from coast to coast and completing the equivalent of 180 back-to-back marathons, Team Novo Nordisk triathlete Sebastien Sasseville ended his epic run across Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia on World Diabetes Day in November 2014. Sebastien ran his final kilometers into historic Stanley Park, reaching the shores of the Pacific Ocean after nine months on the road battling rain, sleet, ice and snow, and more than 30,000 feet of climbing through the Canadian Rockies. Stay tuned for my story on Sebastien.

In the past few months, I’ve also done a limited outpatient clinical trial with my friends at the University of Virginia’s Center for Diabetes Technology (CDT).  I see more trials coming on the near horizon and I’m hoping to participate  with Dr. Boris Kovatchev and his awesome team at UVA. Stay tuned for more updates on UVA CDT trials and news from across the globe.

In closing,  I’d like to reprint an excellent excerpt from Kerri Sparling’s book — “Balancing Diabetes.” It summarizes the paradox of living with #T1D — healthy looking on the outside, dying on the inside. If you don’t know Kerri Sparling — you gotta check her out online. She’s amazing.

Finding Balance and Moving Forward

“It’s a delicate balance, this one between “I’m sick” and “I’m fine.” … On an average day, diabetes falls in the “annoying but tolerable” category. … But on some days, diabetes falls into the “eff you and the effing islet you refused to ride in on” category.

“You seem fine.”  I am fine. I think? I have a chronic illness — a disease — that compromises the function of my pancreas to the point where I need synthetic insulin daily, and even with dedicated management, I may see serious and debilitating complications in my lifetime. That’s part of the dance — feeling and seeming fine and actually being fine, even though my body is dealing with something serious every moment of EVERY DAY.”

“Diabetes means living life on that seesaw. Some days you are way up high and other days have you almost in the dirt, both literally and figuratively. .. I can’t let myself hate it because it is a part of me.  A part that I work so hard to maintain.” Thanks Kerri. Your book is an inspiration.


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2013 Blogging Year In Review: Thanks For Visiting We R The Cure

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Researchers Agree: The Status Quo Is Not Acceptable; We Need More Clinical Trial Participants To Drive Progress

Imagine my surprise and excitement when a leading Type 1 diabetes researcher, Dr. Desmond Schatz of the University of Florida, unofficially promoted our “We R The Cure” blog site during the JDRF Type 1 Diabetes Research Summit on Feb. 18, 2012. Let’s roll the audio tape:

We R the cure JDRF walk team

We R the Cure — and so are you. Sign up for a clinical trial today.

“We do not have enough people participating in research studies,” Dr. Schatz told several hundred Type 1D enthusiasts in his opening statements. “My goal is to give you hope, to inspire hope, and to push you to get involved. Without U, there can be no cure.” Almost on cue, an outburst of applause came from the adjacent ballroom where young children with Type 1 diabetes were playing and having fun while their parents attended the JDRF Summit. Dr. Schatz heard the applause and laughed. “I am here to make it clear, that the status quo (in Type 1 research) is unacceptable!” And again, the children cheered right on cue.

This blog is dedicated to the patients, doctors, nurses, researchers and big thinkers who are actively pushing research forward – in our search for solutions & cures for persons living with auto immune disorders such as type 1 diabetes and certain forms of cancer that are tied indirectly to weakened immune systems or a virus attack. If you’re ready to learn more or join a clinical trial, check back here often for news and information. Or simply click on Clinical Trials to get started.

My name is Mike Anderson, and I am the creator and editor of We R The Cure. I received my Type 1D diagnosis — from out of nowhere — in May 1998. Together with my friends and family, I am a passionate advocate for raising awareness and raising dollars for research and real solutions that will improve the quality of life for children, teens and adults living with this chronic disease. And one day — A cure or many cures.

A clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) that is intended to add to medical knowledge.  There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials and observational studies.    ClinicalTrials.gov includes both interventional and observational studies. So, what R U waiting for … Think about joining a clinical trial in 2014. It’s a new year’s resolution that is worth keeping. Thanks for your participation. werthecure.com


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Resolutions To Keep In 2014: One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap … For Diabetes Awareness

Welcome back to We R The Cure, 2014 Edition. I am happy to be back among the Diabetes Online Community.

Artificial Pancreas Closed Loop System

Artificial Pancreas Closed Loop System

Yes, I’ve been away enjoying Christmas, New Year’s, working, searching for new work and — most importantly, focusing on what matters the most to me: Family, Friends and Faith. If you guessed that what matters most is my Type 1 D, well — you were close but wrong. Of course, it should have been a multiple choice answer.

If you are a person living with Type 1 diabetes, managing your sugar highs and lows is  ALWAYS on the list of what matters most. Healthy and active on the outside; dealing with a chronic, life-threatening disease on the inside. It is a frustrating condition for the 3 million Americans — toddlers, children, teens and young adults — living with it.

A new year is here, and it’s time for me to join the “New Year Resolutions” chorus and to get my editorial content calendar back ON THE GRID. So here goes my Top 5 list of what We R The Cure will focus on in 2014. Of course, the numerical ranking may switch or slide during the year. What is number 1 today, may be number 2 by year’s end. But you get the idea.

  1. Tell the story of my Aunt Mary Jane.  A Joslin Center Medalist who’s been living with Type 1 diabetes for 7 decades and is still waiting for the cure they promised her back in the 1940s. She’s a survivor who has lived the ups and downs of diabetes since the age of 7. She’s got a story to tell.
  2. The focus of ” We ” R The Cure is the amazing Type 1s, the researchers, the doctors, and the clinical teams pushing hard to bring tech solutions like the Artificial Pancreas to market. The focus is on all clinical trial participants. If you are participating in a clinical trial and want to tell your story — please contact me. Your story needs to be told. And we need to encourage more Type 1Ds to seek and participate in clinical trials. We need more guinea pigs.
  3. Research and technology “News that we can use.” As a former reporter, my job is to highlight and interpret the daily digest of exciting and confusing news surrounding Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  4. Wearing My new DexCom 4 and, hopefully, the DexCom 5 in Clinical Trials at the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVA. The DexCom 5 will send its results directly to the Artificial Pancreas smartphone and not to the transmitter. This must be tested and proven successful before “Home” AP trials can begin in 2014.
  5. Biking for the Cure in 2014. Finally putting this on my ” bucket list” and doing it. The target goal: Riding 60 or 100 miles, raising money for diabetes research, and keeping a journal about my training and crossing the finish line.

 

OK, there it is. I’ve placed my resolutions and goals online. WeRThe Cure is ready for another year — year 16 — of balancing life and diabetes. With the love and support of my spouse, family and friends — 2014 will be another great year.

Thanks for reading. Please comment or share ideas or stories.

Mike Anderson


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Diabetes Technology: What Patients Really Want — The Video