Coming Out

So, after 40 years of following the first rule of T1D Club: Don’t talk about T1D, and disseminating the information that I live with this condition on a need-to-know basis only, this has been an emotionally challenging week for me.  ‘Coming out’ as a person living with T1D in a very public way, using my August 14 gig as a vehicle to end the secrecy and raise awareness feels terrifying. What will people think of me now? What will the reaction be?  The reason I went underground in the first place was to avoid dealing with people’s adverse reactions to finding out: The uneducated, unsophisticated, unsolicited and dangerous healthcare advice (“Don’t eat anything with gluten”; “Stop eating any carbohydrates”; “Take (choose one: garlic/vitamin E/Omega 3/ St. John’s Wort) supplements and you won’t need insulin”; “You aren’t allowed to have sugar, so I’m not going to give you that orange juice you just asked me for, even if you say you are having an insulin reaction”; and so on, ad nauseum); The fear and exclusion: (“Lynda can’t come to the sleepover because she might die in the night and spoil the party”; “I (teacher) can’t possibly take Lynda on the field trip; I have [...] continue the story

Life Before Death: Walter Schels & Beate Lakotta

Life Before Death Wednesday 9 April 2008 – Sunday 18 May 2008

Nothing teaches us more about life than death itself. Journalist Beate Lakotta and photographer Walter Schels asked 24 terminally ill people if they could accompany them during their last weeks and days. From these vigils came a series of insightful descriptions and photographic portraits taken before and after death.

Far from being gloomy, these intimate concerns of the dying reveal the preciousness and transience of life, and make us question what we often take for granted.

They discuss their experiences of meeting and photographing terminally ill patients, and what this taught them about life and dying.

My Cousin Kristin

*** Editor’s Note: Mitch was 12 years old when he delivered this speech to his school.

————————————————————————————————————————- Just close your eyes and imagine. Imagine you are in a room at a hospital waiting for the doctor to arrive after a checkup. Then the doctor comes out and says, “Well, I hate to say it but… you have cancer.” Hello teachers, judges and fellow students.

To many of you this is just an imaginary scene. But for many people, this imaginary scene is a reality.

Nine years ago this happened to my cousin, Kristin Malone, when she was only seven years old.

It was May 19th, 1994. She had not been feeling well, so she went for a check up with her doctor. She went back to school that day and my aunt went back to work. They thought everything was fine. Then while at work, my aunt got a call from the doctor’s office. They suspected Leukemia! The doctor told her to take Kristin immediately to the Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Alberta.

Imagine how terrifying that would be! You are in your car, on the way to see if you have cancer or not.

Immediately, Kristin had blood tests, and the doctors had to get a sample of [...] continue the story

Ask Jai – When you want to scream at the world

February 2011

Dear Jai:

What did you do when you wanted to break down or scream at the world, but knew it would only distress your husband?

We found out recently that my husband has inoperable lung cancer and we have an appointment to see the oncologist soon. At this point we don’t know how bad it is, but there seems to be little hope.

Thanks,

Barbara

Dear Barbara,

First, let me assure you that fear is a normal and healthy response to hearing that dreaded phrase, “You have cancer” for either you or a loved one. One can be strong and dedicated to fighting this terrible disease and yet still be terrified. How you deal with powerful emotions, like fear, during this time of incredible stress will be its own trial. So, it’s important to find positive strategies that work for you.

For me, sometimes I was able to talk to my husband about what was worrying me, but sometimes, like you, I didn’t want to upset him. So, I would call, email, or text a close friend to talk to about what was going on that was bothering me. I learned how to text, so I could get instant support when I was in a public [...] continue the story

Ask Jai – Advice for Caregivers

October 2011

Dear Jai:

My wife has pancreatic cancer. Her visitors are coming less and less. What can I do?

Kevin

Kevin,

First, it’s time to rally the troops and give your wife’s friends and family members a pep talk about the important role they play in her life. Battling a life-threatening illness, enduring pain from cancer and its treatments, and facing the threat of dying might make people want close friends and family nearby to make them feel safe, loved, and not alone. Your friends need to know how much you and your wife need them to be a part of her daily life at this time. People may not realize the positive impact of their attention and energy, even if all they do is simply sit with the cancer patient watching television for an hour. Your wife benefits from their company, so make sure to communicate your and your wife’s needs to the loving group of people who surround you. Give them feedback on what is helpful and not helpful to your wife as she goes through different stages of cancer treatment. Open communication will be helpful to all involved.

Please also be sensitive to how your wife’s cancer [...] continue the story