Joe Lansing is an unlikely candidate for Type 1 diabetes.
An avid cyclist, Joe is physically fit and follows a healthy lifestyle. And the kicker is his age.
Joe was 45 years old when he learned he had the disease – 25 years over the typical cutoff age for Type 1, previously known as juvenile diabetes.
“My doctors were aghast. It’s incredibly out of the norm,” says Joe, who helps make sure we have the parts and equipment we need for our operations in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.
Joe has raised money and awareness to fight diabetes through his love for cycling. He received a $2,500 grant from WPX for his participation in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure Colorado.
And Joe rode his bicycle to and from work – a round trip of 138 miles – for Colorado’s Bike to Work Day to raise awareness for the ADA and Tour de Cure.
“This is my third year doing the Bike to Work Day, and every year my co-workers, friends and family have become more supportive,” he says. “The people at WPX are really great.”
An estimated 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the ADA. That’s 8.3 percent of the population.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin. According to the ADA’s website, Type 2 occurs “when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells begin to ignore the insulin.”
Joe says there’s a common misconception about diabetes – that only overweight people are at risk.
“Type 2 diabetes is more often associated with obesity. Only about 6 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1 like I do,” he says. “My physical condition masked the severity of it. I felt really bad, but I looked OK.”
Joe had all the symptoms: Weight loss, constant thirst and frequent trips to the restroom. But it took numerous trips to the doctor’s office before he listened to his gut and purchased a blood glucose test kit.
“I tested myself and I was off the charts. I went back to the doctor and said, ‘It looks like I have diabetes,’” he says.
Joe does not let his disease get in the way of his passion for cycling. Because endurance activities are hard on diabetics, Joe must watch his insulin levels and diet every day.
“I’ve learned that it takes constant vigilance,” he says. “Managing my health and diet is kind of like my second job.”
Joe participates in a number of long distance and charity rides throughout the year, including a ride in Alaska.
“I did the Tour de Cure in Anchorage, and then I jumped on my bike and rode 350 miles to Fairbanks,” he says.
But Joe admits he could not do it all without the support from his coworkers and team.
“I could not do it without my wife, Shirley. She’s my support. I do a number of long-distance rides every year, and she drives the support car.”
Shirley drives along his side with water, food, a safety kit and a mobile GPS tracker on her smart phone to track his location and distance.
“I love cycling because it allows me to focus on one thing and one thing only, and I put all my other worries aside,” he says.