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NICHOLAS MERCER: A Corner Brook woman strives for a cure for Type 1 diabetes

Mandi Buckle is looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Sept. 23 at Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was two years old.
Mandi Buckle is looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Sept. 23 at Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was two years old. - Nicholas Mercer

It was not until 11 years into her life that Mandi Buckle could sleep in on the weekend.

Saturday mornings during the school year, or any time of the year for that matter, are sacred. 

It’s the first the day of the week when there isn’t a bus to catch or a class to get to and students don’t have to plead with their parents for five more minutes of shut-eye. Plus, if you are like I was as a child, it is prime cartoon-watching time.

However, Buckle’s Saturday mornings were always interrupted by the schedule she needed to keep being a Type 1 diabetic. It started when she was two years old.

It was a steady schedule of waking up at 7:30 a.m. to take a needle for insulin, eat breakfast and then probably go back to bed. That had to be hard.

When she turned 11, that schedule got a shakeup.

Buckle received an insulin pump that helped regulate her insulin injections even better. She had to go to Gander to get it and it is believed to be the first one in Corner Brook.

Her new device taking the place of a needle, Buckle quickly re-acquired the time to sleep in on a weekend.

More to that, it was the first time she felt like a normal kid. Up to that point, she was a little bit self-conscious about taking her needle at school.

Now, she could discreetly take her insulin without people seeing and have some birthday cake at a friend’s party.

“There was so much more freedom with (the pump),“ she said. “Everybody thought it was just this new gadget. I felt really good about it then.”

Being a diabetic since she was a toddler, she quickly got over any fear she had of needles.

Buckle’s mother will say her daughter was administrating her own needles as early as five years old. Her fingers are calloused from having to prick them in order to check her sugar levels.

Eventually, she joined the swim club — another step into normalcy — and continued to learn tricks about managing her sugars and staying on the path. Later in life, Buckle started rowing.

Growing up with Type 1 diabetes, Buckle doesn’t remember having any heroes in pop culture that she could look up to and say, “Hey, look where they are and they have diabetes.”

She remembers going to a diabetes camp as a young girl. At the camp, the counsellors and the campers were all diabetics. It gave Buckle a sense of belonging and allowed her to fit in.

It helped her forge relationships with people who may be going through the same things as her.

However, that’s changed in recent years as more and more recognizable people are lending their name to helping come up with a cure.

National Hockey League player Max Domi is the national spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 12. He became a first-round draft pick.

National Football League quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t diagnosed with Type 1 until he was 24 years and has had a successful 12-year professional career. There are countless other stories of athletes and others persevering.

Now, Buckle is looking to become one of those role models for young people who are growing up with or have just been diagnosed with the disease.

“I love talking about it and educating people,” she said.

It's why Buckle is so passionate about the upcoming 2018 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Sept. 23 at Margaret Bowater Park in Corner Brook.

It will be the first time such a walk will be held in Corner Brook. That's pretty cool.

It is an event designed to raise money in hopes of moving along Type 1 diabetes research a little bit faster.

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