One of the most meaningful things that Team Novo Nordisk (TNN) does as we race our bikes around the world is meeting young people living with diabetes and showing them that it is still possible to achieve amazing things.
At Stage 4 of the 2017 Arctic Race of Norway in Tromsø, we met an amazing 11-year-old named Sigurd. Below is Sigurd’s story.
Being Diagnosed with Diabetes
In 2015 when he was eight years old, Sigurd’s mom Cecilie noticed that he had been drinking and urinating often, but according to Cecilie (who’s an ICU nurse), the most noticeable symptom was that Sigurd was “eating and eating and never feeling full.”
After four weeks, Sigurd had lost 5 kilograms and was getting very thin. “Only skin and bone,” Cecilie said. So Sigurd was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“The night before we went to the doctor, I read more about type 1 diabetes and was prepared to have it confirmed,” Cecilie said. “When we got the diagnosis, I was sad, but at the same time, I tried to think that now we knew what was wrong and that it was not the end of the world. My focus was that he would get well again and that we wouldn’t lose him.”
From the start, Sigurd was brave and took charge of his diabetes management. On his own, he checked his blood sugar and used an insulin pen. While he felt a bit overwhelmed by the new challenges, he didn’t let it bring him down.
“In the beginning, we had to learn how to manage his diabetes,” Cecilie said. “How much insulin should Sigurd take with food and how much for the rest of the day? What should we do when he got low, and what kind of food/drink would work the best with low blood sugar? With time, we learned what works for Sigurd and how his blood sugar reacts to different foods, drinks, and activity. We always try to give his diabetes the attention it requires in our daily life, but not more.”
Heading back to school, Sigurd discovered that there were many stigmas surrounding diabetes.
“We encountered a lot of myths and information about diabetes that were simply wrong,” Cecilie said. “Now I work hard to try and educate people about diabetes. For example at Sigurd’s school, I provided them with the necessary information about his diabetes to help inform both his teachers and classmates.”
Meeting Team Novo Nordisk
Early in the summer of 2017, Sigurd’s family received the Arctic Race of Norway’s magazine in the mail. Inside, they learned about a team of riders all living with diabetes that would compete in the race.
“We had never heard of Team Novo Nordisk,” Cecilie said. “We got very excited, so I sent the team a message on Facebook, and from there I was able to get in touch with the TNN press officer.”
At Arctic Race of Norway’s final stage in their hometown of Tromsø, Sigurd and Cecilie came out to meet the team and cheer them on.
“Meeting TNN was fantastic!” Cecilie said. “They want to change diabetes and how we see people with diabetes. They are living proof that you can follow your dreams and be the best that you can be, even with diabetes. They are so inspiring and give hope to others who want to dream big.”
Meeting Sigurd left an impression on the TNN riders as well. “It’s important for us to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes,” Team Novo Nordisk rider Charles said. “It’s always nice to show them that we race our bikes against the best in the world, even with diabetes.”
“Sigurd had never talked to other people with type 1 diabetes,” Cecilie said. “Getting to see, meet, and talk to the team helps let him know that he is not alone. Sigurd will never forget meeting the team.”
The Road Ahead
Today, Sigurd doesn’t let his diabetes slow him down and plays football at his school and on a local team in Tromsø. When he grows up, Sigurd wants to be a scientist, a dentist, or “maybe a pro rider for TNN.”
“After meeting TNN, Sigurd believes that he’s not alone with his diabetes. The support we give him every day makes it a little bit easier to manage it, and to live his life like everyone else,” Cecilie said. “In the beginning, I only thought about all the things Sigurd couldn’t do. Now we only talk about all the things he can do.”