Community News
June 26, 2018 By Denise Barnard
Looking forward to a cure

Andrew Peart says he and his nine-year-old daughter, Zori-Lee (Zori, for short), are alike. Some people even say she is like his twin. It’s not just their physical resemblance but something that’s not noticeable at first glance: They both live with type 1 diabetes, and were both diagnosed at the age of five. As a father, it was hard for Andrew, now 43, who says, “I was hurt and emotional when Zori was diagnosed. I always hoped my children would be spared.” He adds, “But at least I have my life experience to take on the challenge and help her.”

It was Andrew’s sister, Cecile, who noticed the signs, from going to the bathroom a lot and drinking tons of water, to bumping into walls because he couldn’t see. Andrew’s mom, Edith, took him to SickKids Hospital in Toronto where he was diagnosed. He didn’t understand what was happening, but when he saw how sad his mom was, he says, “It started to sink in that something was wrong.”

Although this was almost 40 years ago, diabetes treatment was much different than it is today. For Andrew, the experience of being held down by his mom and the nurse who gave him his daily insulin needle before school was “traumatizing.” For Andrew, “growing up it felt like I was on an island.” As is often the case with children with type 1 diabetes, he didn’t know any other kids with the disease. That changed when Andrew attended one of Diabetes Canada’s D-Camps, Camp Huronda in Huntsville, Ont., which he describes as a “special place where [kids with diabetes] go to take care of themselves and also have fun.”

Although he hadn’t thought about camp for years, when Zori was diagnosed, he wanted his daughter to have to the same positive experience. He, Zori, and son, Micah, who is three, went to Diabetes Canada’s family camp. He says, “The doctors and nurses were great. [Zori] was really happy, and had [such] a great time, she wants to go back.” She will be attending camp this July.

While Zori still faces many of the same challenges as her dad did as a kid, from experiencing highs and lows, to counting carbs, to dealing with day-to-day management), Andrew sees how different his daughter’s experience is from his. “We keep an eye on management trends and research, and anything to make life easier,” he says. “Now Zori has options – no more medieval torture devices. There are pens, not syringes, and you just press a button. You can record your sugars to an app, CGM, or pump. I’m really grateful for all of that.”

What do father and daughter most hope for? A cure. Says Andrew, “Zori does ask about a cure. She believes there will be one. There seems to be a lot of hope now. People used to say ‘you’re lucky to have insulin.’ Now there could be a cure [in our lifetimes]. Money [for research] is the key – we’re almost there.”

To hear more from Andrew, watch this video. Andrew lives with his family in Brampton, Ont.

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