Staring out at the Atlantic Ocean as the waves lap up against the rocky cliffs of Glace Bay, N.S., a lifelong fisherman savours these precious moments by the water. “Life will pass you by if you don’t stop to smell the flowers,” says Weldon, a native of the Cape Breton fishing community, who’s living with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.With type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it has (unlike type 1, a lifelong condition in which the body does not produce any insulin). Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to patients developing heart disease and risk of stroke.
“[In the beginning], it was very stressful,” says his daughter and caregiver, Nancy, who is also a fisher. Weldon developed cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death in patients with type 2 diabetes. Through trial and error, the father and daughter established a daily routine and diet that Weldon could maintain. “It took a long time to get to the place where we could accept the way things were going to be,” says Nancy. Due to his condition, Weldon had to give up life on the boat, though Nancy insists that his heart is still out at sea. Together they are embarking on this new chapter of his journey with a sense of hope. “Don’t give up, keep going,” says Weldon. “This is just the beginning.”
If you or someone you know is living with diabetes or prediabetes, speak with your healthcare professional for more information. Visit heartandstroke.ca or diabetescanada.ca for more information about diabetes and cardiovascular risks.