Our Diabetes/365 Community IS our cuppa!

Unlikely, Likely Heroes

10/12/2012 00:12

Who do you admire?  Is there someone that sets the type of example that you find inspiring?  Are these heroes people that you know personally or are they famous?

Recently, my family & I experienced Banting House in London, Ontario for the very first time.  I now keep a piece of that day within my heart.  It was one of those days that instantly went onto our top 10 best days of our lives list.  It was that huge!

This is going to be our family’s 6th Christmas with this thing called diabetes in the family.  Without Dr. Banting & his sleepless night in London & the discovery of insulin, we would not be celebrating a Christmas together.  There is something about going & sitting right on the very bed that Dr. Banting was sitting on when he wrote down his idea for insulin. Then, you get to venture into the room that patients were seen when Dr. Banting had a very tiny family practice.  Oh my goodness, the paintings on the wall at Banting House that were painted by Dr. Banting are absolutely a treasure too.

The stories that I had heard over the years about Dr. Banting & his discovery of insulin were romanticized.  Last month, I took the time out to read 3 Dr. Banting biographies.  They were to be part of the journey prior to going to Banting House.  I had not planned it that way yet that is how it unfolded.  I learned through the reading that Dr. Banting did not have a passion for diabetes, that he had gone into medicine to become a surgeon & happened upon insulin as a treatment for diabetes.  He was from a small town originally not far from the wee town that I grew up in.  Dr. Banting grew up in Alliston, Ontario on a farm.  He became a doctor & entered into WW1 as a much needed doctor.  Few folks are aware that Dr. Banting was a war hero.  He won the Victoria Cross for bravery when he continued to treat wounded soldiers for 16 hours after he had been wounded by a piece of shrapnel in his dominant arm.  The biographies depict Dr. Banting as an unassuming person who was uncomfortable with fancy speeches & functions.  He was described as a man who valued the brotherhood of being a part of the war effort & who later felt more comfortable in a research lab than presenting papers in front of audiences of scholars.   Dr. Banting studied at the University of Toronto & then started up a family practice in London.  He did not see very many patients in London & lived very meagerly with little in the way of finances coming into his practice.  As a result of the slow start up with his family practice, Dr. Banting accepted lecture requests from the University of Western.  In preparation for one of the lectures that he was asked to give on the pancreas, Dr. Banting did some preliminary reading.  Then, he retired to go to sleep for the evening.  He woke up at 2:00am with the idea of how insulin could be used to treat people suffering with type 1 diabetes.  Type 1 diabetes had been up to that point a death sentence.  People diagnosed with type 1 would live generally only a few months to a couple of years with this disease. 

This unassuming doctor from small town Ontario with few people or presentation skills, a less than vibrant family practice & no background whatsoever in diabetes decided to travel to the University of Toronto to meet with a department head by the name of Dr. McLeod to request lab space there to do insulin research.  The first meeting did not go well & Dr. Banting could have chosen to hang his head & return to London & continue to struggle to build his practice & leave the thoughts of insulin research altogether.  Instead, Dr. Banting returned with a determination & preparation to live in Toronto with few resources & give up his practice in London.  He was provided with lab space as a result at the University of Toronto that was filthy & he & Charles Best cleaned it & the equipment up & started to work tirelessly.  The rest as they say is history.  The journey to heroism was marked as it often is with struggle, determination, steadfast focus & sacrifice.

As my family & I stood outside the house of one of my all time heroes & said thanks to Dr. Banting right beside the Flame of Hope, it was with happy tears in our eyes.  How do you say thank you to someone for life?  My answer is to say it with pure hearts of gratitude!

There are oodles of folks out there that when they are asked about who they admire or want to emulate in example & action, they give a long list of names we have all heard before.  They are:  professional sports athletes, movie stars, music stars, and other famous people.  What if I told you that I have an exceptionally long list of people that with all my heart I consider to be the greatest heroes & only a few are names that anyone would read about or know?  Not one of them is famous for scoring winning goals or winning an academy award nor winning a music award.   One of the famous heroes to me is Dr. Banting & he is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize.  He literally is an everyday hero to my family & other families because he is the reason that we wake up & get to give thanks for another day of life.  We never met the man yet we have walked the same beautiful Georgian Bay paths that he once did & we get to celebrate our 6th Christmas because he is the reason that I am still here.

Okay, so there are many, many famous people that either lived with or are living with diabetes & you will recognize many of their names.  Let’s make a list:  Halle Berry, Nick Jonas, Gary Hall, Adam Morrison, Vanessa Williams, Doug Burns, Jackie Robinson, Bobby Clarke, Victor Garbel, Anne Rice, George Lucas, Chris Dudley, Bret Michaels, Bill & John Davidson (of Harley Davidson), Mikhail Gorbachev, Hatshepsut, Johnny Cash, Mary Tyler Moore, Evel Knievel , Peter O’Tool, Elvis Presley, Sharon Stone, Kendall Simmons, Ernest Hemmingway, HG Wells, and Thomas Edison.  The list goes on & on.  You are sure to recognize at least a few of these famous names.

What if I told you that the other every day heroes that I hold closest to in my heart are people that you absolutely will not see under the bright lights of publicity?  They are my battle buddies( family & friends & diabetes community dear hearts), my “365” dear hearts.  And what if I told you that the other every day heroes are kids…kids living with type 1 diabetes & their moms & dads?  They endure so much day to day yet you should see how they live their lives fully & with adventure, encouragement, huge loving hearts…some of the kindest, most inspirational folks within the community.

My heart thanks you Dr. Banting beyond words for the gift of this Christmas with my family.  May you find thanks out of your pure heart of gratitude too to the everyday heroes in your life!

Smiles, Saundie