YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – Tom Duffy isn’t afraid of a challenge. The 41-year-old York resident is training for the New York City Marathon in November.
It will Duffy’s third marathon but his first under unexpected circumstances. He was presented with an unexpected challenge in July 2018.
“The night before I was diagnosed, my stomach wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and I thought it was an issue with my pancreas,” Duffy said. “I wasn’t really sure because I hadn’t had any pain issues in such a long time, so I thought I’ll sleep on it and go to bed.”
Thinking it was chronic pancreatitis, which he had once 20 years ago, the doctor’s news the next morning came as a complete shock.
“The doctor said your blood sugar is super high, and you have type one diabetes,” Duffy said.
Getting diagnosed with type one diabetes as an adult is extremely rare. His body is no longer able to produce insulin on its own, and Duffy now has to give himself insulin up to five times a day.
Duffy said he doesn’t know how or when it happened.
“It’s hard to put the pieces together because even doctors can’t put all the pieces together,” he said.
Duffy found help and comfort online and through social media, finding other adults across the county facing the rare diagnosis.
“Most of the time you are diagnosed with diabetes when you’re a child, and it’s something you grow up with and live with and you learn all about carbs and insulin your whole life, so there wasn’t a lot of education for it,” he said.
Duffy found the group Beyond Type 1, a nonprofit focused on education, advocacy, and a cure. He’s one of 30 members from around the world training to represent the group in the marathon.
“Everyone always says, how can you give yourself a shot four to five times a day? I always say one, I want to live, and two, the needle is very small. You get used to it,” he said.
With constant exercise comes more insulin, but running is his way of changing what it means to live with a chronic illness.
“Reaching out to people, connecting with people, learning about what other challenges people are going through, it really keeps your attitude positive and lets you know you’re not alone,” he said.
Duffy applied to be a part of another group called Beyond Type Run. He was accepted and now, through running marathons, he’s raising money to help others living with the disease.
You can learn more about Duffy’s story at https://beyondtype1.org/overcoming-the-unthinkable/.