Visiting Team Novo Nordisk

Heroes for people with diabetes

Just before the holidays, I attended Team Novo Nordisk’s (TNN) media day at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, GA. (Disclosure: Team Novo Nordisk paid for my travel, lodging, and some meals)

I got a close look at the scale of Team Novo Nordisk’s vision, mission, and even got to ride alongside some of the athletes (I had to ride in a car to keep up). It was impressive, inspiring, and educational.

Large group of Team Novo Nordisk pro cyclists

Some of Team Novo Nordisk’s Pro Team – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk has nearly 100 athletes with diabetes from 21 countries spanning a number of sports (cyclists, triathletes, and runners) in a few phases of athletic development. One remarkable point in the story of many of these athletes is the story of being told “no.”

Twelve out of eighteen of the pro riders were told they’d never race again because of diabetes. Imagine receiving that crushing news along with the diagnosis? Racing was everything for these guys! And with a single sentence, their dreams were smashed. Thank goodness they didn’t give up so easily. And now, thanks to TNN, they are shining examples of what can be done with diabetes.

Some of Team Novo Nordisk on a panel ready to share information and answer questions

Panel presentation / Q&A with Phil Southerland, Dr. Mark Greve, Stephen Clancy, Fabio Calabria, Quentin Valognes, and Sam Brand – ©Jordan Haggard

The mission of Team Novo Nordisk is to inspire, educate, and empower people affected by diabetes. They’re attacking this mission on many fronts and changing diabetes for the better in a lot of ways.

Some ways are really big, such as being the first all-diabetes professional team in any sport worldwide (that’s something often overlooked, but this great interview with Phil Southerland in diaTribe points out). And some ways aren’t immediately noticeable, like an aspiring athlete being told, “no” only to find TNN proving a resounding “yes!”

Phil Southerland and Martin Nordmark talking about TNN

Martin Nordmark, Sr. Global Project Manager, Novo Nordisk, sharing his experiences with the team – ©Jordan Haggard

Panel of Team Novo Nordisk cyclists with Quentin speaking into a microphone

Quentin Valognes telling his story – ©Jordan Haggard

One of the things I most admire about Team Novo Nordisk is they continue to go above and beyond. What do I mean by that? I’m not a professional athlete, but I can imagine it’s already immensely challenging to compete at this level. But that’s not all they do. In 2016, Team Novo Nordisk published/shared more than 1,800 articles and participated in more than 365 diabetes related community events around the world to help set the record straight about diabetes. Nearly everywhere they go, they take time out of their grueling athletic schedule (and travel schedule!) to talk with the community and spread information.

A selfie with Scott Johnson and Quentin Valognes

I chatted with Quentin Valognes during one of the breaks.

Team Novo Nordisk is doing a lot of work on language and stigma in diabetes, and one of the stories I remember most fondly was told at a community event last June in New Orleans. It’s a very real example that sticks in my head as one that makes a big difference in how we are perceived.

The story is that one year, the famous television cycling commentators spoke of a TNN cyclist as suffering from diabetes (that’s one of my big pet peeves – “suffering“). After long efforts of patient and persistent relationship building, Team Novo Nordisk was able to teach the commentators more about diabetes – they were able to set the record straight. The next time the commentators talked about a rider with diabetes, the language was different. Suffering was gone, and instead, that rider lived with type 1 diabetes.

Scott and Oliver facing each other talking

Talking with Oliver Behringer during one of the breaks – ©Jordan Haggard

These may sound like little things, but I tell you, they make a difference to people who don’t know anything about diabetes. Just think about the difference between “living with” and “suffer.” There’s a huge difference there, right? There is to me, and I know which one I prefer.

Oliver Behringer doing a wheelie for the camera

Oliver Behringer playing/posing for pics – ©Jordan Haggard

The guys riding up to pose for a group picture – ©Jordan Haggard

Team Novo Nordisk and guests at Stone Mountain Atlanta – ©Jordan Haggard

The commitment to Team Novo Nordisk’s mission is remarkable and was something my friend Brian mentioned a number of times as we took in all of the information over the day.

And they’re always looking for more athletes – Phil even made a special call-out for more U.S. talent!

Click above to learn more about joining Team Novo Nordisk

The Diabetes UnConference – February 2017

See you in Vegas, baby!

Group photo - The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

The Diabetes UnConference Las Vegas 2016 Alumni

Register Now

Don’t miss it – register now – the deadline is January 24th!

From the official website:

What is it?

At The Diabetes UnConference, every participant is an expert. All attendees can ask and answer questions and learn from their peers in a safe setting where there is no judgment or wrong answer. Topics may include: diabetes burnout, depression, sex, discrimination, financial issues, getting inspired to exercise, family, or even what the best treatment for hypoglycemia is for each person.

Who’s it for?

This conference welcomes all adults with diabetes. The Diabetes UnConference is the only multi-day conference that welcomes all male and female adults with diabetes to share their thoughts and feelings. (and PLUs – more info…)

What to expect?

As the agenda is created by the attendees leading up to the conference, so expect the unexpected! That being said, expect that you’ll be surrounded by those who understand how you feel about living with diabetes (or a loved one with diabetes). Expect to feel safe and not judged for expressing your feelings and thoughts. Expect to meet people who will become confidants and friends. Expect to not feel alone. Expect to leave with new knowledge and ideas for living a healthy life with diabetes. And of course, expect to have fun.

The Diabetes UnConference

As you can see, it’s not your typical conference.

Why is it important?

I believe that your story matters. You bring an important perspective and experience to life with diabetes. Your voice may be exactly what someone needs to hear. Likewise, exposing yourself to the voices and stories of others with diabetes might trigger something big for you.

The Diabetes UnConference is a powerful place for such things. I participated for the first time in 2015 and can’t stop thinking about the quick bonds that were made, the safe environment to share (or just listen), and the walls of diabetes isolation crumbling apart around us.

You could talk about your fears, your joys, shed your tears, or burst out laughing …

Men being men

The men’s discussion group from the first Diabetes UnConference is one of my most treasured memories. We had a very real and safe (what happens there stays there) bunch of discussions with other guys living with diabetes. I didn’t know what to expect… there was a big chance that there’d be too much bravado in the room for meaningful conversation. All it takes is one guy puffing his chest to make the rest unwilling to open up.

But what happened was very special. One by one, guys started talking about stuff they needed to share and asking questions they needed to ask. Not one bit of snark or sarcasm or even looking at each other funny. Just a protective circle of understanding and open ears.

Make this your year

If you’ve attended in the past, thank you. You’ve improved my life and helped me see diabetes with more perspective than before. If you’ve not yet attended, maybe this is the one you decide to join? Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet you. Register now (deadline is January 24th)

Register Now

Here are a few posts from others who’ve attended in the past:

Diabetes UnConference Hits the Atlantic City Boardwalk
The Diabetes UnConference: The power of peer support
My Take On The Diabetes UnConference
Joe from Germany Comest to the Diabetes UnConference
My UnConference Experience
And more…


Disclosure: I am not compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. for my time or energy working The Diabetes UnConference events, nor do I earn anything for registrations. My travel, lodging, and some meals are paid for, but I am not otherwise compensated by The Diabetes Collective, Inc. I enjoy these events and it’s an honor to represent myself, Scott’s Diabetes, and mySugr to serve and help The Diabetes Collective, Inc. when requested.

Identifying barriers to transition of care

Changing from pediatric to adult care

I had a great pediatric diabetes care team and stayed with them as long as possible. I was in my mid-twenties still sitting in the waiting room with the little guys and gals. We passed the time by checking out Highlights Magazines and sliding shapes along metal rods.

Pediatric waiting room toyThen an insurance issue forced me out the door and I had to find an adult care team. The change was traumatic. It took about a decade for me to find another team I felt comfortable with, and my diabetes management surely suffered because of it.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But I bet it’s more common than we think, so I’m thrilled to see more research being done.

Please spare a few minutes of your time (less than 10) to help with a survey called “Identifying barriers to transition of care in young adults with type 1 diabetes” being done by Dr. Krishna at The Penn State College of Medicine & Hershey Medical Center (must be under 32 years old to participate).

Thank you!

Sugar Surfing comes to Minneapolis

A workshop with Dr. Stephen Ponder

Dr. Stephen Ponder is a pediatric endocrinologist and certified diabetes educator with Scott and White Healthcare in Temple, Tx. He’s lived with type 1 diabetes since March of 1966 and has been a pioneering force in diabetes telehealth and remote care for many years.

Dr. Stephen Ponder

One of his latest projects is Sugar Surfing, a modern approach to managing diabetes.

Sugar Surfing Book

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

The book was recently published and has been well received so far. Local PWD and social media superstar Allison Nimlos has worked with Dr. Ponder to bring his Sugar Surfing workshop to Minneapolis in September!

I just registered (cost is $10), and want to spread the word. I’d love to welcome Dr. Ponder to Minneapolis with a packed house. Can you come? It’s happening on September 24th, 2016, 12:30 pm (workshop runs from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, at Open Book.

If you’re nearby and interested, please register and share! Space is limited, so don’t delay!

Register Now!

The Faces of Diabetes

Breaking stereotypes with positive attitudes

The Faces of Diabetes Logo

I love “The Faces of Diabetes” and the great work they’re doing. If you’re not already familiar, The Faces of Diabetes is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the way people see diabetes. Founded by Edward Fielder, the idea started from his senior thesis at Troy University where he mixed the heavy subject matter of diabetes and the humor often found in the situations we end up in. The website and associated social media channels feature user-submitted images along with short stories about their lives with diabetes.   (more…)

Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program

Putting Beneficiaries' Lives at Risk

A Medicare program designed to save money and make things easier for their beneficiaries with diabetes actually appears to have increased costs, increased hospitalizations, and even increased deaths.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services claims the program for diabetes testing supplies poses no health threat. However, a peer-reviewed journal article recently published in Diabetes Care (fee for full article access) shows otherwise (press release (3/2016)), (press release (12/2015, includes a free link to the white paper the published article is based on)).

Medicare CBP What

(more…)

Powerful Perspectives on Diabetes Complications

from Dr. Jeremy Pettus & Dr. Steve Edelman

I was really moved by a recent newsletter from Dr. Steve Edelman & Dr. Jeremy Pettus about diabetes complications and asked for permission to share their thoughts with you.


We Are One Diabetes Logo

When Diabetes Gets Complicated

And what could be more complicated than complications? Yes, that’s right. It’s not a fun or funny topic.  In fact, it’s the opposite of those things, but it is something that we do need to talk about.  What we want to discuss is not how to prevent them, or the rates of complications, or other “medical” things, but rather the struggle we all face when confronting them.  Steve and I have different perspectives on this, so I thought it would be relevant to talk about this from our different viewpoints – myself having never really developed complications (knock on wood), and Steve having a few that he can talk about. This is really a result of when we were diagnosed and how much things have changed relatively quickly.  We hope that you will all find something you can relate to in our stories that represent the history of diabetes over the last several decades. (more…)

Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms

(and a game show!) with Kerri, Scott & Bennet

I like podcasts. I listen to them as often as I can and I feel blessed that there are so many great diabetes podcasts to choose from.

I actually have a diabetes podcast to thank for bringing a very important person into my life. George Simmons would not have found the diabetes online community when he did if it weren’t for Christel’s Diabetic Feed podcast. My world would be much different if G-Money hadn’t found that podcast.

Picture of Kerri, Christel, Scott, and George on Scott's bookshelf

(more…)

Spare A Rose, Save A Child

Brad made a quick video with everything you need to know about Spare A Rose in less than one minute.

If you’re ready to jump right to it and donate, that’s great! Head to http://SpareARose.org/give/

Maybe money is tight right now? No worries, I understand. We understand. Spreading the word about this campaign is also very helpful, doesn’t cost a thing, and is very much appreciated.

If you really want to dig into the nitty-gritty details or do something extra great (like get your workplace involved), visit SpareARose.org.

Thank you!

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Huge thanks to Brad Slaight (Meter Boy of Diabetes Hero Squad) for making this wonderful video!