“In November of 1995 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Seventeen years later I am volunteering at the very place that Dr. Frederick Banting conceived the idea that saved my life.
I started volunteering at Banting House National Historic Site of Canada simply because I felt the need to be out in the community. I was drawn to the house specifically because it was Dr. Banting’s house and you can’t really beat that when you are living with diabetes. I wanted to be involved in the diabetes community. Talking to other diabetics about the ups and downs of diabetes has a unique way of forming a community. I’ve been able to meet and talk with countless visitors about their personal experiences with diabetes, and what visiting the place where insulin was thought of has meant to them. It’s hard to put into words sitting on the very bed where the idea that saved your life means to you. Parents, siblings, children, and spouses have all shared stories of their own experiences with diabetes or those of their family members. Hearing all of those stories makes this house a very special place. Being a part of their experience makes it that much more rewarding.
Each time I come to volunteer at Banting House helps put into perspective this life-saving discovery. I wouldn’t be here, along with countless number of people in my life and around the world if Dr. Banting had not thought of insulin. It’s a humbling fact that has made me even more appreciative of the gift he gave the world. While going to school, working and doing everyday activities, I don’t often think of what my life would have been like if insulin wasn’t discovered by the time I had been diagnosed. Instead I find I almost take it for granted. I live my life as any other third year university student but I have to deal with diabetes. It can be difficult, but you push through. Taking the time to appreciate and think about what happened in this house puts my life in perspective. It gives me the chance to once a week say thank-you to someone who isn’t with us by telling his story and being a living example of what he accomplished, and hopefully giving our visitors a chance to see what Dr. Banting’s discovery meant to the world.
The main reason I volunteer at Banting House is to provide hope. Living with diabetes does not have to hold you back and there is hope that there will be a cure within my lifetime. Dr. Banting worked for countless hours formulating insulin on the chance that he could discover something that would make a difference. He succeeded, and we’re left to carry on his torch that there is hope that one day there will be no more need for insulin. I’ve shared my story of living with diabetes with many of our visitors in the chance that they take something away from it. Whether that something is educational or more is fine with me. The fact that I get to share my story and maybe pass on a message of hope and a positive outlook brings me back each week to the Banting House.
I’m anticipating the day I can be here when a cure for diabetes is found and the Flame of Hope can be extinguished. Until then, I will be returning to Banting House trying to put into words what Dr. Banting’s discovery has meant to millions of people worldwide, and what it has meant to me.”
This post was written by one of our volunteers at Banting House, Erika. Erika is currently a third year student at Western University and is originally from St. Catharines, Ontario. In addition to volunteering at Banting House, she enjoys horseback riding and canoeing in her free time.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Banting House, please visit our Volunteer Page. If you’d like to share your own experience living with diabetes, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Or, if you’re nearby, please come and visit us at Banting House!