Healthy Living
November 03, 2017 By Gabrielle Bauer
What’s your risk for developing type 2 diabetes?

The clues were certainly there, but Dwayne “Bubba” Vermette (pictured above with his wife, Erin) chose to ignore them. “I was getting up four or five times every night to go to the bathroom,” he recalls. “I just couldn’t quench my thirst.” If he happened to bump his arm or leg against a hard surface, “it was as painful as if I’d been hit with a baseball bat.”

It was his father-in-law who insisted Bubba get tested for diabetes, after seeing him drink an entire jug of iced tea at a restaurant. After his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in his thirties, reality hit with full force: He had to begin insulin therapy right away. The next year, 2008, was a whirlwind, with weekly trips to a specialist in Calgary—a three-hour drive from his home in Lethbridge, Alta.—and checking his blood sugar several times a day. But it was his fear of what life with diabetes would be like that upset Bubba more than anything else. “I remember going out for supper with my wife, Erin, and thinking this was the last good meal I was ever going to have,” he says.

He sank into a deep depression until a car accident changed his life. A week in hospital gave him time to think. “I realized that if I didn’t make a change, I wasn’t going to continue being on earth for very long,” he says. He joined a local weight loss centre, changed his diet and lost 75 pounds in a year and a half. His efforts paid off. “My blood glucose and cholesterol lab results improved so much that one doctor in Calgary called me a freak,” he says with a chuckle.

Bubba walks five kilometres every day. “When I was first diagnosed and people told me that exercise would help, I didn’t take it seriously,” he admits. “I had to experience it myself. It clears my mind more than anything else.” In 2011, he started “Bubba’s Journey,” a 100-kilometre fundraising walk he does for Diabetes Canada every year (except for 2015 when he had knee surgery). He has clocked 500 kilometres, lost 107 pounds, has not taken insulin for the past eight years, and just takes two oral diabetes medications.

Looking back on his transformation, Bubba says he could not have done it without his wife’s support. “Erin stuck with me at my lowest points and encouraged me at every step,” he says.  He wants people to realize that life can still be great after a diabetes diagnosis. “Mine certainly is,” he says. “Once I made the choice to get healthy, everything kind of fell into place.”

One in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes and many do not know it. Take control of your health the way Bubba Vermette did and find out your risk. Visit and take a short online test to find out your risk of type 2 diabetes. For every test completed by November 30, 2017, Sun Life Financial will donate $3 to breakthrough diabetes research.

(This story originally appeared in Diabetes Dialogue.)

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