Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rider tackles Type 1 diabetes

Chick wears insulin pump during games

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REGINA -- Saskatchewan Roughrider John Chick believes in dreams, even while tackling a life-changing disease.

The 250-pound, 6-4 defensive end is a Type 1 diabetic, meaning he needs insulin to stay alive.

"Most people just know me as a football player, but it's something I deal with. I wear an insulin pump both on and off the field," said Chick.

"It's a 24/7 disease and it's hard to handle."

The pump Chick wears is about the size of a cellphone. A thin tube runs from the pump to what is called the infusion site -- the spot on the body where a tiny plastic catheter goes under the skin and delivers a steady amount of insulin. Chick programs the pump to give more insulin when he eats.

Chick says the pump and another device that attaches to him to monitor his glucose have helped him live "somewhat normal."

Surprisingly, he says the pump usually doesn't get pulled off during a game.

"The machine itself is just in the waistband of my shorts, my undershorts. It stays pretty good there. It's been hit a number of times," he said after a recent practice at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

Occasionally, the tiny plastic catheter will get pulled out, he says, but putting it back is no big deal.

Chick was diagnosed as a diabetic when he was 14 years old and admits it made him question his future in football.

"It definitely put doubt in there at first, frustrating, you get the 'why me,' and that's not just with the diabetes. You know, everyone asks those questions when something real happens and so those were my initial thoughts," he said.

Family support was key. It helped Chick pursue his football dream.

The Utah State graduate helped the Riders win the Grey Cup in 2007. He was the CFL's top defensive player in 2009 before signing with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts in 2010. He spent the next two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before returning to Saskatchewan this year.

Chick is part of the Sun Life Financial Kick Diabetes campaign, which launched Aug. 22.

In partnership with the CFL, Sun Life -- a sponsor of the players' association -- will make a $101 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation every time a successful field goal is kicked during the regular season, up to $40,000.

Chick is optimistic a cure can be found. He says the technology has already made leaps and bounds.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2013 D3

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