Since I have two sons with juvenile diabetes, I often hear “I’m a diabetic,” excuses. “Mom, I have to eat this cupcake right NOW. My bloodsugar is low.” “Mom, can’t you excuse me from the 1.5 mile run at school, since I’m a diabetic?” Well, now I’m armed with proof positive that diabetics can do anything. And I mean anything.
Will Cross doesn’t let chronic illness get in the way of achieving his dreams. Thirty years ago he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes (type I) at the age of nine. Now, a 39-year-old father of six, he became the first diabetic to climb Mount Everest last May. But that’s not all. Cross has also scaled the highest peaks of each of the seven continents and has walked to both the North and South poles.
In an article by Helen Altonn in the October 28, 2006 Star Bulletin, Cross was quoted as saying, “The caveat is you have to take care of yourself. Then you go after what’s important to you.” He explains that there is a lot of fear and myth surrounding diabetes, and that children with the disease often are stigmatized.
With respect to climbing and walking in regions where temperatures plummet to negative 150 degrees, Cross was told, “you can’t do that with diabetes.” It was thought that the sub-zero polar climate would take a serious toll on his eyes, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. And people wondered how his insulin would remain effective in freezing conditions. Will Cross wanted to show everyone that it was possible.
Using some innovative new diabetes products and sheer determination, Cross has done just that. When he and his climbing/trekking partner, Jerry Peterson (who does not have diabetes) went to the North Pole in 2001 and were successful, “[Doing that] opened people’s eyes that maybe this can be done,” he said. The two also conducted research at the University of Pittsburg Medical center, where the physiology of both Cross and Peterson (diabetic vs. non-diabetic) were analyzed. Surprisingly, no significant differences were found.
Even after this Mount Everest achievement, Will Cross will not be slowing down any time soon. If you happen to be passing through Greenland, you just might run into him making a classic polar trek. Cross says it’s been done “a handful of times.” Probably not by a diabetic, I suspect. (Yeah, like that really matters.)
So, bring on the excuses, boys. With human beings as remarkable as Will Cross around to inspire us, honestly, are there any excuses left?
Kristyn Crow is the author of this blog. Visit her website by clicking here. Some links on this blog may have been generated by outside sources are not necessarily endorsed by Kristyn Crow.