Not Dead Yet by Phil Southerland and John Hanc
My Race Against Disease from Diagnosis to Dominance
by Phil Southerland and John Hanc
Copyright © 2011 by St. Martin's Press.
Provided with permission from St. Martin's Press.
Phil Southerland is the founder and CEO of Team Type 1, the professional men's cycling team you've no doubt watched race and defy the odds over the last few years. Phil is also a tireless advocate for diabetes education, empowerment, nutrition and control, traveling the world and talking to fellow diabetics, doctors, scientists, and others in the health industry to make a difference in the way diabetes is treated across the globe. His mission is to instill hope and inspire those affected by diabetes that anything is possible.
To that end, he's written a memoir Not Dead Yet: My Race Against Disease from Diagnosis to Dominance that details his life story from diagnosis at just 7 months old to how he turned his passion for cycling into a global movement to positively affect the lives of people with diabetes.
Excerpted from Chapter 1: A Man from the South
"Why does God do this to a baby?" she cried into the phone. "Why not a mass murderer…someone who deserves it? Or why not me…or his dad…why an innocent baby?"
He probably gave an answer. But not one that made any sense to her or eased her suffering. As far as she recalls today, "The priest had no answer."
That was the end of her Catholicism.
Two hours passed in a blur. The doctor came in — not the young self-confident doctor but an old, courtly Southern physician. She remembers it was late afternoon when this happened. There were autumn shadows peeking through the half-drawn blinds of the little waiting room. The late-afternoon sky was a pinkish color, an apt metaphor for what she sensed was the darkening of her own life, a life that she was sure would be spent forever lamenting the loss of her firstborn.
The doctor spoke. "I've got good news and bad news," he said.
She braced herself. After what seemed like an eternal pause, he continued. "The good news is that he's going to live." Joanna didn't care about the bad news, initially so overjoyed by the surprising report that she began to weep. She barely heard the rest of what he had to say:
"….But he has diabetes. The youngest case of juvenile diabetes we've ever seen."
Diabetes, she remembered thinking. Something about sugar and insulin. Injections, right? No candy bars for her son, she supposed. Regrettable, sure, but he was going to live. Thank God. Then, the other shoe fell. There was more bad news, delivered not that day but a few days later, once a specialist was called in. He was blunt in his assessment: "The statistics on children with juvenile diabetes this young are grim." Based on then-current care and technology, he predicted that "after twenty-five years, he'll probably be blind, and suffer kidney failure — that is, if he's still alive by then."
The dour prospects were based on a scientific truth: high blood glucose levels can end up killing certain cells in the eyes and kidneys, which is why diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness and of kidney failure. Still this was some prognosis for a young mother to hear about her baby.
Sightless, on dialysis, in all probability dead by twenty-five.
She listened, her jaw set. This time, her reaction wasn't tears. It was quiet, simmering anger, a steely resolve. Her baby boy had survived. And just as surely as she thought he was about to die that Sunday afternoon in the hospital, she was now equally sure he would live and continue to live.
For more information on the author, Phil Southerland, and Team Type 1, you can visit www.teamtype1.org
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