Papper, Canyon blaze diabetes enlightenment trail
Jordan DePape likes to hunt.
Now, the myths that surround diabetes are in his crosshairs.
Papper, as he is referred to by his Kamloops Blazers’ teammates, is touring with Canadian country star George Canyon, doing his part to educate concert-goers on the disease that affects about 3 million Canadians.
“I just want to be a role model,” said DePape, who is spending the offseason at his Manitoba home.
“With what I’ve done so far in junior hockey, I just want to get the message across, especially to kids, that diabetes can’t hold you back.
“Anything is possible, you just have to put your mind to it.”
The first stop on the George Canyon and Friends Diabetes Tour is scheduled for Monday, May 2, in Halifax.
After the show on the Great White North’s eastern seaboard, the crew will head west for stops in Toronto and Calgary.
DePape and Canyon will be speaking about a device that changed their lives — the Animas insulin pump.
The pump, which is smaller than a cell phone, clips onto the user’s pants and periodically releases small amounts of rapid-acting insulin into the stomach through a tube.
Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce it.
DePape, a self-proclaimed prairie boy who loves country music, refills the pump’s cartridge with insulin every three days.
Prior to the pump, which DePape started using last May, he used to inject himself with a syringe about 10 times a day.
He was diagnosed when he was 13. That means (if the 19-year-old DePape injected himself 10 times a day for five years) he stuck a needle into his stomach about 18,250 times.
If he had the luxury of the pump during those years, he would only have refilled the cartridge about 600 times.
The Blazers’ forward cannot change the past, but he can change the future of those listening to him at the Canyon concerts.
“It just makes life so much easier,” said DePape, who set traps in rural Manitoba and Ontario in time for bear-hunting season, which began on Tuesday, April 26, in the Keystone Province.
DePape, who said Canyon is one of his favourite singers, has not yet met the musician.
“That’ll be pretty cool,” said DePape, who wears the pump underneath his equipment when on the ice.
“From what I’ve heard from everyone who’s met him, he is really level-headed, like any normal citizen.”
A normal citizen who also has Type 1 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 14.
“The general public is more aware than ever before, but we have a long way to go as ignorance still exists,” Canyon told KTW.
“I have had it bluntly smack me in the face on occasion lately and it fires me up.
“My mission has always been to encourage kids and adults with Type 1 diabetes to control their disease and live their dreams, as Jordan and I are.”
Lindsay Carswell, an 18-year-old ski instructor, and Mike Fisher, a 23-year-old amputee and competitive snowboarder, both type 1 diabetics, are on the tour with DePape, who remembers the day he was diagnosed.
“I was so scared. I didn’t like needles and I remember being in the hospital bed asking my mom, ‘Am I ever going to play hockey again?’”
Yes, Jordan laced them up again — Papper registered 21 goals and 48 points in 54 games for Kamloops last season.
He is a hunter, a fisher, a hockey player — and he is a diabetic.
“If I take care of myself and listen to my doctor, I’ll be able to do whatever I want.”