“Without my cousin’s discovery, I wouldn’t be alive today”

By Rebecca Redmond

May 26, 2020

My name is Rebecca Redmond, and I am #MoreThanT1D.

I’m a writer, a public speaker, a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend…and Sir Frederick Banting’s cousin.

Not that long ago, my cousin and a team of amazing researchers in Canada successfully created insulin – the drug that keeps me, and millions of people around the world alive every day.

Before insulin, people living with T1D had a life expectancy of just over one year, following their diagnosis. One in five people lived 10 years long, but experienced severe complications including blindness, kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks and the potential of amputation.

Today, our life expectancy is almost normal.

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years, experiencing highs lows, frustration and pain. When I discovered JDRF and attended one of their events last year (coinciding with my 20th diaversary) I was so moved by the sense of community I felt. I spent the day with thousands of others who live with T1D, making me feel so much less alone, and understood.

In these times of social distancing, we have to think differently about how we can connect families living with T1D together. We have found a virtual way to come together from the comfort of our own homes to accelerate the pace of T1D research at the JDRF House ParT1D for a Cure presented by Omnipod.

On June 14th, you can join the largest house party in Canada for those touched by T1D. Celebrities such as NHL player Max Domi, country superstar George Canyon, former NHL player Bobby Clarke, endurance athlete Sébastien Sasseville, DJ MC Mario and more will be in attendance. You can also win prizes and hear inspirational stories from the community, as well as research updates.

My cousin never gave up. He and his team pushed through adversity together – and we must do the same. We are #MoreThanT1D! Let’s come together, have some fun and turn type one into type none!

I’ll be there, supporting people like myself who live with a 24/hour/365 day disease. Will you register and fundraise with me?


Meet our celebrity lineup for the JDRF House ParT1D for a Cure!

May 27, 2020

If you haven’t yet heard, you’ve been invited to Canada’s largest virtual house party turning type one diabetes into type none…the JDRF House ParT1D for a Cure, presented by Omnipod!

This one-day, family-friendly event is intended to bring the T1D community together (virtually) and bring us closer to a world without type 1 diabetes. It’s an opportunity to get loud and raise funds to accelerate the pace of T1D research. And did we mention we have an amazing lineup of celebrities joining us? Read more about our famous attendees below!

Max Domi, NHL Player

JDRF Ambassador Max Domi is a young, up-and-coming NHL superstar.

In his 20 years as a professional athlete, Max has won a Gold medal in the 2015 World Juniors Championship, drafted 12th overall by the Arizona Coyotes, held a captain position of the London Knights, and now proudly sports #13 for the Montreal Canadiens. Max is a prominent figure in the T1D community – inspiring youth athletes to follow their dreams, and not let anything – especially a disease like T1D– get in the way.


Gloria Loring, Actress

Singer, entertainer, recording artist and Academy Award nominee Gloria Loring is a woman with many talents.

The Days of Our Lives TV star is also the mother of actor Brennan Thicke and pop singer-songwriter Robin Thicke. Gloria dedicates her time advocating for type 1 diabetes as a JDRF spokesperson, as a result of Brennan’s diagnosis at age four. So much so, that she created and self-published two volumes of the Days of Our Lives Celebrity Cookbook, and donated over one million dollars to T1D research. Following the success of those reads, she published two more Kids, Food and Diabetes, and Parenting a Child with Diabetes. Her dedication to the arts, as well as her role as a mother of someone who lives with T1D makes her the perfect House ParT1D guest.


Brennan Thicke

Born into a family that is no stranger to the spotlight, Brennan Thicke is an inspiring actor who lives with type 1 diabetes – advocating for T1D alongside his family.

Son of Canadian actor Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and brother of Robin Thicke, Brennan is best known for his roles in MASK, Dennis the Menace, and Unusually Thicke. He’s been active in a number of diabetes charities including JDRF, and the self-born charity, Thicke Centre. Being diagnosed shortly after a family vacation in the 80’s, Brennan persevered and found strength through managing T1D, while living his dream as an actor.


Bobby Clarke, Former NHL Superstar

Former NHL superstar Bobby Clarke can be best recognized by his golden smile.

The talented professional athlete was one of Canada’s first notable T1D warriors on the ice – inspiring the country with his strength and leadership. Bobby never let T1D stop him from skating circles around other players, executing impeccable stick-skills, or becoming an NHL legend – playing over 1,000 games, scoring almost 400 goals, and over 1,000 points on the ice.


George Canyon, Country Superstar

National JDRF Canada spokesperson and famed Canadian country singer George Canyon has overcome plenty of adversity – singing his heart out while doing it.

After giving up his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot following his diagnosis as a young teen, he turned to his passion, country music, to inspire others like him who battle the stigma of T1D every day. The two-time Juno Award Winner is a hero to music fans, and people living with T1D across the globe.


Sébastien Sasseville

Endurance athlete Sébastien Sasseville is an exemplary case of turning adversity into strength and opportunity.

Years after his diagnosis of T1D in 2002, Sébastien successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest, completed multiple Ironman triathlons, and finished the legendary Sahara race. In 2014, he put his limits to the test, and completed the biggest marathon of his life: running across Canada – a 7,500 kilometer journey equivalent to running 180 marathons in nine months.


DJ MC Mario

DJ MC Mario knows a thing or two about a good house party. That’s why the Canadian Dance Hall of Famer is joining us – bringing his acclaimed DJ skills learned from his radio show, House Party, along with him.

Mario has celebrated 3 million albums sold in Canada, and he’s still counting! The Juno Award nominee knows how to raise spirits, get a party started and have a good time.


Kaleb Dahlgren

Kaleb Dahlgren is nothing short of a hero.

The young, talented hockey player manages type 1 diabetes on and off the ice and is a brave survivor of the horrific 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Kaleb did not let his experience stop him from pursuing his dreams. Every day, he continues to manage T1D, while defying odds, and does it with a smile on his face, while cheering his teammates on. Founder of Dahlgren’s Diabeuties – an outreach program for kids with T1D – he continues to work towards his goal of turning it into a non-profit, with proceeds going to a camp that he envisions for children who live with T1D.


So what are you waiting for? Our House ParT1D will be filled with these incredible celebrities, entertainment and so much more. You can tune in anytime and even live stream your own house party. It’s a party you won’t want to miss! Register at jdrfparty.ca


T1D and returning to work and school in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak

May 25, 2020

We are sharing information that addresses some of the top concerns of the T1D community. Note these responses are not intended to be medical advice, for that—as always—you must consult your own healthcare team.

The declining numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Canada are positive news. But as provinces begin to release guidance as to how schools, workplaces, and public spaces can reopen, many people may be feeling anxious. People living with T1D and their families may have extra factors to juggle when making decisions and planning for return to work or school.

Each province or territory is outlining public health guidance on practices such as social distancing, and a locally relevant approach for returning to schools, workplaces, and public spaces. Familiarize yourself with guidance from your provincial or territorial health authority, and keep up to date on changes.

Regardless of where you live, maintaining practices of social distancing and good hygiene will continue to be crucial to minimize exposure for ourselves and those around us, as restrictions are loosened. Universal practice of these measures will help to minimize risk of infection and mean we continue to “flatten the curve”. In these early phases of loosening restrictions, everyone should continue to practice:

  • Frequent handwashing or, when in public places, frequent use of hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol base
  • Avoid touching face, mouth, nose and eyes
  • Minimizing trips to grocery stores and other locations visited by a high volume of people
  • Maintaining a 2m (6 foot) distance from others when you do need to leave home
  • Wearing a face covering when physical distancing is not possible (e.g. when shopping, on public transit, etc). A non-medical face covering will not protect you from COVID-19, but it can protect others by reducing the spread of droplets from the wearer. For more information on non-medical face coverings, see Health Canada guidance.
  • Adhering strictly to local guidance on joining social gatherings with others, and applying the above practices during social gatherings wherever possible.
  • Staying home for a minimum of 10 days if you have cold or flu symptoms.
  • Familiarizing yourself with local COVID-19 testing practices and get tested if you are eligible – testing capacity in Canada is expanding, which is crucial for tracking cases and preventing spread during early phases of re-opening.

Will it be business as usual when we return to school or work right now?

As they prepare to reopen, schools and workplaces are putting safety procedures in place to minimize risk of exposure to the coronavirus. These can include:

  • measures to ensure social distancing in classrooms or workplaces
  • policies around how to interact with others
  • cleaning procedures
  • in some cases, provision and use of personal protective equipment

Reaching out to your school or employer to understand exactly what practices are being implemented may help to make decisions about and prepare for your return.

Is it safe to return to work or school with T1D?

Even with safety procedures in place, returning to work or school may mean an increase in risk of exposure at this time. It’s important to understand what the risks of COVID-19 are for people with T1D in planning to return.

Evidence thus far indicates that children and adults less than 65 years old with well-controlled T1D and without other health conditions are not at greater risk of getting COVID-19 and do not necessarily have worse outcomes of COVID-19 than their peers without T1D. Thus, T1D itself may not be a medical reason to delay return to work or school.

Recent data from the UK indicates that older age, high HbA1c (e.g. >10%), and obesity (BMI>30) put people with T1D at increased risk of death from COVID-19. Although similar data are not yet available from Canada, this new information indicates that older people with T1D, and those who live with them, should take every possible precaution to reduce their risk of exposure.Each person with T1D is different and if you are concerned about your health status and have questions about your own situation, seek guidance from your healthcare team. Factors that may mean a person with T1D is at higher risk of the consequences of COVID-19 include:

  • Age 65 or older
  • High HbA1c (>10%)
  • BMI >30
  • Complications or other conditions that have been associated with poor outcomes of COVID-19, including heart disease, hypertension, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer
  • Immune compromised status due to medical treatment, such as immunosuppressive drugs (for example after a kidney or islet transplant), chemotherapy, or a medical condition (note that T1D itself does not cause immune suppression)

If one or more of the above applies to you or someone you live with, and your school, workplace, or commute does not allow you to practice all of the social distancing practices recommended, consider delaying returning to work or school for a period of time – if you can. It’s best to discuss your individualized plan with your healthcare team and your school or employer.

If going back to school or work, is there anything we should do differently?

  • In the short-term, if you can work or attend school effectively from home, you may choose to continue doing so while safety procedures are being established.
  • If you physically return to work or school, ensure to practice all of the recommended safety measures at all times to minimize risk of COVID-19 to yourself and others. This is also important to remember during break times such as recess.
  • If you usually take public transit, consider adapting your commute to minimize social contacts – for example by driving, travelling at low-peak times, or walking or cycling if possible.
  • Avoid bringing items to school that would be quickly shared with other children, such as stationery (pencils/pens), books, or toys.
  • If your child has T1D and is returning to school, add a good supply of disinfectant wipes, gloves and face coverings (ideally well-fitting medical masks for adults and children, if you can obtain them) to their T1D supplies kit and communicate with teaching and support staff in advance. This means that if your child needs physical assistance at school, the person assisting them will have quick access to protective equipment. More information on diabetes at school can be found here.
  • If you have T1D and are returning to work, bring your own disinfectant wipes, gloves and face coverings (ideally well-fitting medical masks, if you can obtain them) along with your usual T1D supplies, and communicate with your employer in advance. This means that if you need physical assistance while at work, the person assisting you will have quick access to protective equipment. In communicating with your child’s school, or your employer, take the opportunity remind them about the life-saving potential of glucagon in the event of severe hypoglycemia.

If a person has had COVID-19, are they immune to getting it again?

Because the coronavirus is new, researchers cannot say for certain that an initial infection guarantees lasting protection. But based on the experience with other viruses, including other coronaviruses, they expect that people who recover will be shielded for perhaps at least a year or two, and from there the immunity might start to wane (but not disappear). Evidence suggests they would also be less likely to pass the virus on to others.

How long will it take to develop a vaccine for COVID-19?

A vaccine for COVID-19 is still many months away, and restrictions are being loosened at this time in Canada without availability of a vaccine. However, intensive research into prevention and treatment of COVID-19 is ongoing around the world, with many trials being led here in Canada.

If you have additional concerns not addressed here, write to us at T1Dquestions@JDRF.ca  or check out jdrf.ca/coronavirus for more information.

In-Home Test Kits Make Screening Convenient and Easy

May 20, 2020 

TrialNet—an international JDRF-supported network of leading academic institutions, endocrinologists, physicians, scientists and healthcare teams dedicated to finding cures for type 1 diabetes (T1D)—has a new in-home test kit that makes screening far easier and more convenient and at no cost to you!

If you have a relative with T1D, you can detect your risk of developing this disease today through the TrialNet Pathway to Prevention study. Here’s how:

  • If you are eligible (the eligibility requirements are below), go to trialnet.org/participate to request a test kit
  • When it arrives in the mail, collect about 10 drops of blood using a finger prick
  • Place it in the collection envelope
  • Call FedEx at 1-800-463-3339 to schedule a pickup, or go online to FedEx.com, where you can schedule a one-time pickup or find a drop-off location (this needs to be done within 24 hours of the blood collection)

That’s all!

Results are typically reported in 4-6 weeks. However, due to COVID-19, results may be delayed. If your results show you are in the early stages of T1D (defined as testing positive for T1D-related autoantibodies), there may be an opportunity to participate in a T1D prevention trial.

TrialNet screening can sometimes detect T1D years before symptoms occur. Detect your risk today.

Eligibility Criteria

You qualify for free screening if:

  • you are between the ages of 2.5 and 45, and have a parent, brother/sister or child with T1D
  • you are between the ages of 2.5 and 20 and have an aunt/uncle, cousin, grandparent, niece/nephew or half-brother/sister with T1D
  • you have not been diagnosed with diabetes.


If you have questions, contact the Canadian TrialNet team at 1-866-699-1899 or e-mail trialnet.diabetes@sickkids.ca.


Nurse with T1D is reminded of her resilience after surviving COVID-19

 May 19, 2020

Sarah is no stranger to JDRF,
having been involved with the
charity ever since the age of 11. 

When Sarah Ayers and her boyfriend returned from a trip to Europe in early March, talk of an impending pandemic in Canada was flooding the media and travelers were being advised to self-isolate as a precaution. The Toronto couple did just that upon reaching home and everything seemed fine – at first. As a nurse living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), Sarah was in tune with her body and nothing felt amiss. Yet things took a turn for the worse three days later when she started manifesting symptoms of COVID-19.

“I had classic symptoms (of the virus) except shortness of breath, so I ended up getting tested,” recounts Sarah. “It was scary and stressful because I had to wait over a week for my results.”

During that time, Sarah remained in bed for six days battling major exhaustion, along with daily headaches and body aches. She also experienced an intermittent sore throat and a fever.

“Just walking to the bathroom down the hall was a huge effort,” she says. “Yet I am lucky my T1D wasn’t impacted by the virus. I only had one day of no appetite where I ate very little, so I kept an even closer eye on my blood sugars to make sure they were staying in range (while I wasn’t eating).” 

Thanks to a strong support system – “lots of love and good wishes from friends, co-workers and family” – Sarah was able to manage at home and avoid hospitalization. Her boyfriend helped care for her and and her parents dropped off groceries while the two remained in isolation for three weeks. She also credits JDRF with getting her through the difficult period.

“The organization has been on top of updating everyone on COVID-19 relating to T1D, so having that knowledge really helped,” she relates. “They also bring a lot of hope to people and do a great job of keeping the community informed of the research they’re funding.”

“One thing that I personally enjoy about JDRF is the sense of community it creates.”


Diabetes runs in Sarah’s family, with several of her paternal relatives in England having the disease. While she was never exposed to the day-to-day reality of T1D management until her own diagnosis in 2001, Sarah is no stranger to JDRF, having been involved with the charity ever since the age of 11. Her family not only participates in the annual Walk, but her father also used to rally a corporate team to sponsor the fall Ride prior to his retirement.

“One thing that I personally enjoy about JDRF is the sense of community it creates,” says Sarah. “I don’t know many people with diabetes so when you go to a fundraising event and see a big crowd of people with the disease, it reminds you that you are not alone.”

Over the years, Sarah has maintained a good attitude towards living with a chronic illness.

“At the beginning it was obviously a little overwhelming with a lot to learn, but I quickly adjusted to a new normal life,” she relates. “Though always at the back of my mind, my T1D is not something I constantly think about or that stops me from doing anything – it just requires a lot more planning.”

Symptom-free for several weeks now, Sarah is back at work helping others who have contracted COVID-19. She says her experience with the virus served as a reminder of her strength.

“Even though I have diabetes my body is still strong and able to fight disease,” she affirms. “So, I’d like to tell others with T1D that it is completely possible to get COVID-19 and fully recover.”

Ask the Pediatrician: T1D and COVID-19

May 14, 2020

JDRF invited a leading type 1 diabetes (T1D) expert to discuss the probability of young people contracting COVID-19 and the necessary precautions they and their families can take to ensure their well-being during the pandemic.

Dr. Mahmud shared this information and more during our Facebook Live Q & A event, which you can watch below. 

Dr. Mahmud also answered several live questions from the audience. Here are the top themes:

Q. Are people living with T1D at greater risk of getting infected by COVID-19?

A. No. Individuals with T1D are not at inherent higher risk of getting COVID-19 or other viral infections.

Q. Is COVID-19 a common occurrence in young people with T1D?

A. No, we are not seeing that in Canada, although there have been a few cases here of young people with mild symptoms that resolved after a few days with appropriate management. These are experiences that are helpful to us in order to be prepared. And I think of preparation as a balance of being reasonable, but not being fearful, and being patient, but not panicky. And filling this uncertainty with education and knowledge as much as we can. Health care professionals are still here and while we may have different ways of communicating with our patients and families and are limiting face-to-face interactions, we can still connect with them through virtual means. It is really important that we adopt that model.

Q. Will people’s fear of going to the hospital lead to further T1D complications?

 A. It is a fear that health care professionals are worried about and of which we must be mindful. If a person living with T1D is unwell or has concerns, he/she should reach out to his/her health care team and be prepared with knowledge about how to manage the virus with T1D.

Q. Should teenagers with T1D who have part-time jobs still go to work?

A. If their jobs are non-essential roles, then no. If they are assisting in a family business, for example, then best to take precautions like wearing a mask, disinfecting everything and washing hands frequently. However, if going to work can be avoided, that is preferable.

Q. Is a return to school safe?

A. Yes. Young people without complications and normal blood sugar control would not be immune compromised. We must trust that the school system will have appropriate sanitizers and structures in place. There’s going to be that element where we are going to go over this complete lockdown and I think mentally we have to be ready for that, be it how we think of our days and balance COVID-19 – in the absence of a vaccine– in our lives. And as parents, we must be open to sharing our concerns with our educators.

Q. Where can blood work be done?

A. Blood work can be done certainly in the hospitals or in an outside lab as most of these areas have instituted significant precautions. It is recommended to wear a mask when you come in and wash hands regularly.

Q. Do we need to assess A1C levels?

A. You probably don’t need to come in for an A1C check unless there are other health concerns. Health care teams can host virtual visits where they can assess measures that are equally valuable for individuals using continuous glucose monitoring, such as time in range. We can also use records to discuss blood sugar management in patients who are monitoring glucose by standard methods.

Q. How do we empower ourselves and our children?

A. With reason. Instill the habit of handwashing and the fear of getting sick. The vast majority of young people with T1D who contracted COVID-19 recovered and remain relatively healthy.

Q. Can high blood sugar levels negatively impact your immune system?

A. If an individual has properly managed T1D and is without complications, he/she is not at risk. No one has perfect blood sugar levels throughout the day, and we would not be seeing significant alterations to the immune system (during this pandemic) that would make the person or his/her child immune compromised.

Q. Will insulin be readily available?

A. All the major manufacturers/pharmaceuticals have reassured us that there will be no problems with insulin supplies during this time. The Canadian Pharmacists Association has addressed the issue by having a one-month supply for all medications so that we can ensure there is enough for everybody.

Q. Should health care professionals working on the front lines move out and stay elsewhere if they have a child with T1D at home?

A. No, but they should take safety precautions before, during and after work. They should not wear jewelry on the job, only use disposable containers for lunch, leave shoes outside upon returning home, and launder their clothes and disinfect their mobile phone every day.

Q. What do you suggest to lower anxiety, worry and stress during this time?

A. Diet and exercise, self-compassion and self-forgiveness. Like kids, adults will have both good and bad days. They are struggling with everyone under the same roof. So, it is important to have some type of schedule, but at the same time to be spontaneous and look after themselves because they have been thrown into a situation that isn’t perfect and that they didn’t plan for. They have to practice self-compassion and understand that they are doing the best job they can to make decisions in real time. I think exercise, activity and having time to be alone with their thoughts are very important because with all of these stresses they have to be careful to not be overly reactive and to be nurturing to their children who are going through this as well, and temper what they’re hearing 24/7 re – news.

Q. Are diabetes complications more likely among individuals with T1D once they contract COVID-19?

A. No, that is not an outcome we are seeing; the virus is not affecting any organs like the kidneys, eye, etc. among these people. And the experiences from Europe and China must be very much shared as they have had some good outcomes stemming from the significant hardship. Thankfully, our hospitals here in Canada are coping and are not jam-packed.

Q. How do we keep children on routine re – their diabetes management?

A. Parents and their children should work with their health care team to get structure. I think this is an opportunity to optimize as much as we can.

Q. How can parents prepare if they contract COVID-19 and they can not access their network of grandparents/older relatives to care for their children?

A. In this situation, they should communicate with their medical team as they may have to be hospitalized. Their condition may also be able to be virtually assessed and family-centred care may be provided by the institution.

Q. Would patients with T1D be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

A. No. Older adults are at highest risk, so they would likely be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

For more info on T1D and COVID-19 please visit jdrf.ca/coronavirus.


How is COVID-19 Affecting T1D Research?

May 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched everyone’s lives, changing the way we all live, work, and interact with each other. Its effects will be profound and long-lasting, which means that JDRF needs to understand and respond to its impact on both the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community and the research that still needs to happen. Knowing that many research institutes are closed or have temporarily diverted staff or resources to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now asking the question: What does this mean for T1D research?

JDRF is working hard to navigate through the challenges of the current environment and to ensure that T1D research can continue in a way that prioritises the safety of researchers and research participants. With our unwavering commitment to finding better treatments and cures for T1D, critical research continues to be driven by JDRF-funded researchers in Canada and around the world.

“We realize those living with T1D don’t get a break,” says Dr. Tim Kieffer, Professor in the Departments of Cellular & Physiological Sciences and Surgery at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, “and we remain committed to our research and finding creative ways to remain productive as we strive to contribute to the development of novel therapies, and ultimately a cure.”

Several members of Dr. Kieffer’s team have received exemptions to continue to work in the lab on long-term, critical projects that have already involved substantial investment. These team members are often working in the lab alone, using new procedures to ensure their safety.  For other team members who are working from home, efforts have shifted to analysis of data, writing papers and grants, planning new projects, and exploring ways to increase our lab’s efficiency.

It is unprecedented for world-class research facilities to have to limit activity to this extent – but there are some silver linings to the forced slow-down. “In my case, this has also been a great opportunity to re-assess the lab’s many projects, seek new ways to further innovate our approaches, recruit additional team members, and reach out to collaborators around the world, who while experiencing similar situations, are available to strategize and assist us in attaining our goals,” says Dr. Kieffer.

Most clinical research sites are requesting that clinical trial enrolment is paused during the COVID-19 pandemic – but clinical trials already in progress can continue, using virtual approaches to interact with patients wherever possible. Dr. Bruce Perkins, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, is about halfway through an exciting clinical trial that is testing an oral medication called empagliflozin in people with T1D who are also taking insulin via an artificial pancreas system, with the aim of improving blood glucose control and making disease management easier. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Dr. Perkins and his team will continue to monitor patients on treatment through virtual visits, including advising them on troubleshooting issues with their artificial pancreas system.

Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, Professor of Medicine and Nutrition at Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) and Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), was quick to adapt one of his key T1D research projects to address unmet needs in the T1D community in Quebec. He, his colleague Dr. Anne-Sophie Brazeau, and their team are developing a registry of people with T1D based in Quebec, through which registered participants can access a rich, interactive digital training platform whose content has an emphasis on hypoglycemia prevention and management. Given the importance of virtual resources during this period of social distancing, the research team altered the enrolment requirements, enabling a much broader base of people to benefit from the new online resource. They are also inviting registry participants to share information on how they have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, to better understand the effects of the pandemic and of COVID-19 illness in people with T1D – a topic where evidence is lacking but urgently needed. Finally, Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret and his colleagues are also contributing to an effort that will expand the use of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in hospitalized patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater use of CGMs in hospitals will enhance patient comfort and safety, reduce spread of COVID-19 in the hospital setting, and limit the usage of personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals – important outcomes already addressed in part by the recent announcement that Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitor has been approved by Health Canada for use in hospitals during COVID-19.

“This pandemic situation has obliged us to revise our usual clinical care and clinical research process, requiring a very rapid shift to virtual care. Online training and tools are a great complement, allowing patients to tailor according to their personal needs. We could foresee that the changes we have made will result in durable, positive effects for people living with T1D and their families”, says Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret.

Dr. Gillian Booth, practicing endocrinologist and a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, has found that COVID-19 is shaping the way that she is approaching her research. Dr. Booth and her team are in the process of developing a platform for delivery of virtual care for patients with T1D that will decrease the burden of attending in-person appointments and improve health outcomes. “The need for virtual care during this pandemic is highlighting all sorts of things that we may not have appreciated were important in delivering high quality care remotely,” says Dr. Booth. Her team will continue to develop the virtual care platform and carry out planning and regulatory activities required to launch the clinical trial that will test the platform’s effectiveness, all while working remotely.

While bench work in the lab of Dr. Jayne Danska, Professor, Senior Scientist and Associate Chief, Faculty Development and Diversity at SickKids Hospital, Toronto has paused, her group remains highly active with data analysis, remote collaboration and group meetings, revising manuscripts, writing research ethics applications and launching the new JDRF-CIHR funded Microbiome Team on T1D she leads with collaborators from Calgary, Guelph and New Haven, USA.  She recently spearheaded a joint effort that collected and delivered personal protective equipment from all the SickKids Research Institute laboratories to frontline workers, demonstrating the commitment of the research community.

Like the T1D community, JDRF-funded researchers are strong and resilient: despite the set-backs caused by COVID-19, they will continue to innovate and pursue cures and better treatments for T1D. The field can anticipate new perspectives, renewed focus, and a surge of accelerated progress once work can fully resume.

Thanks to our donors, JDRF is ensuring T1D research doesn’t stop, and is providing Canadians living with T1D the resources they need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consider making a donation to fuel critical research and the latest resources, advocacy and support while we continue to work toward a world without T1D.

Talking to an expert on T1D and COVID-19

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Talking to an expert on T1D and COVID-19


April 22, 2020

A Q & A with Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, JDRF-funded clinical scientist and endocrinologist at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

JDRF invited leading type 1 diabetes (T1D) expert to discuss the probability of contracting COVID-19, who is at greatest risk of getting severely ill, and what people with well-controlled T1D should do to stay healthy.

Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret shared this information and more during our Facebook Live Q & A event, which you can watch below. 



Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret also answered several live questions from the audience. We share the top themes below.

Q. Are people living with T1D at greater risk of getting infected by COVID-19?

A. No evidence suggests that at this time. Of course, should you already have T1D-related complications, it is easier to contract an infection of any kind.

Q. Are people living with T1D who work in the health care system at risk of contracting COVID-19? Should they take specific precautions?

A. The level of risk is dependent on several factors including the individual’s age, his/her degree of blood glucose control and whether he/she has T1D-related complications. Yet as generally advised, social distancing, washing hands frequently and staying at home remain best practices for these people. As well, they should postpone all clinical visits and get in touch with their health care team whether by phone or online for regular follow-ups.

Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret 

Q. Is there a worse prognosis for people living with T1D who get COVID-19?

A. We know that the consequences of a viral infection may be more significant among people with T1D as it can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar. Yet the prognosis depends on several factors including the individual’s age, his/her current degree of blood glucose control and whether he/she has a pre-existing T1D-related condition like heart disease and/or kidney disease.

Q. Is there a specific risk for contracting COVID-19 among children with T1D?

 A. We have not seen any reports with major or bad outcomes for children with T1D who have been infected with COVID-19. Even when the disease has manifested, it was extremely mild. However, blood sugar control needs to be carefully monitored in such cases and families should be prepared with extra supplies like insulin and ketone strips.

Q. Is there any risk for supply issues among companies that manufacture insulin and CGM materials?

A. At this time, all companies have stock and we anticipate no disruption in the supply chain.

Q. Which medications are safe to use?

A. Acetaminophens, like Tylenol, can be used as a first-line treatment. However, they are not anti-inflammatory and people with T1D should know these medications can sometimes interfere with certain CGMs, etc. Should you already be taking Ibuprofen (ex. Advil) for another condition such as arthritis, it is recommended to continue doing so following consultation with your health care practitioner.

For more info on T1D and COVID-19 please visit jdrf.ca/coronavirus.


Using your voice to fight against type 1 diabetes

May 5, 2020

At JDRF, we know that when it comes to fighting against type 1 diabetes (T1D), there is strength in numbers.

As a JDRF Advocate YOU can bring together people who have been affected by T1D, who want to make their voices heard and work together to build bonds with Members of Parliament, as well as provincial and municipal officials in order to drive change, influence the shape of policy and help new treatments reach the community, moving us closer to a world without T1D.



As an advocate, we need your help. In order to grow and have more people take important actions for those living with T1D, we ask that you reach out to friends and family today to join you as a T1D advocate by:

  1. Asking your network to help build and sustain critical support for T1D research and raise awareness among decisionmakers of the financial, medical and emotional costs of the disease by becoming a JDRF Advocate.
  2. Sharing our advocacy page with a personal message from you using the hashtag #WhyIAdvocate.
  3. Sharing this blog on your networks.

As we strengthen our community together, we’ll be able to accelerate the pace of type 1 research.

Now YOU can invite others to use their voice to help secure continued Federal funding for important diabetes research, inform health and regulatory policy, and improve the quality of life for those affected by T1D – until we find a cure.

It’s because of the work that advocates like you do, we are able to drive change. Let’s carry this momentum forward and work toward a world without T1D.

Advocating for insulin pumps in Manitoba

May 5, 2020

35-year old Jenna Basson from the Pas, Manitoba was amongst the volunteer team sharing their personal stories at the Manitoba Legislature last March 11th as they advocated for the provincial government to extend insulin pump coverage beyond the age of 18.

As a young professional, Basson would love the opportunity to better manage her type 1 diabetes and lower her A1C levels through the usage of an insulin pump, but the costs are just too high for her to be able to afford one. “The cost has always been so much that I could never afford it,” she said. “Over the years I’ve looked at the different options that are available, but they still remain inaccessible and unaffordable. Having this coverage would be life changing!”

The incredible volunteer advocates spent the day at the Manitoba Legislature on March 11th alongside JDRF’s advocacy team to demand #AccessForAll. The day consisted of a morning training session for advocates, followed by individual MLA meetings, culminating with an evening reception in the Legislature’s Golden Boy Dining Room co-hosted by philanthropist and long-time JDRF supporter Mrs. Tannis Richardson and JDRF President and CEO Dave Prowten.

JDRF’s message to the government was straightforward and simple: Manitobans with type 1 diabetes at all ages need access to insulin pumps. Investing in an insulin pump program for all will not only benefit patients, but it will also be a win for taxpayers with proven reductions in direct healthcare costs and complications. This means a significant reduction in emergency room visits and hospitalizations which has long been a priority for the government. The unfortunate reality is that Manitoba is lagging behind other provinces, with BC having recently joined Ontario, Alberta and the three territories in covering the cost of insulin pumps for all ages.

The team was met with lots of support from both government and opposition members, with over 50% of MLA’s who took meetings and attended the evening reception. “While there is still work to do, it feels like we were heard despite competing priorities,” Basson added.




In 2021, we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin; a discovery by Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best that changed the lives of millions of people around the world. Announcing pump coverage for all in Manitoba would be an amazing way to recognize and celebrate this incredible contribution.

Until then, we continue to advocate and push for #AccessForAll.

Help us advocate for full insulin pump coverage in Manitoba by sending a letter to your representative today.

#AccessForAll in the age of COVID-19

May 5, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to dominate global headlines, the journey to #AccessForAll remains. In fact, within a few short months, the investment into virtual healthcare and digital health technologies has become even more of a priority for provincial healthcare systems across the country. Patients and doctors are still finding a way to connect without having to meet in person, and that is becoming our new normal in light of the current pandemic.

When the dust settles and provinces start to open up again, virtual care will still be a viable option that will reduce hallway healthcare, save considerable resources, and be a convenient option for patients and doctors alike. In order to roll out virtual care successfully, and more permanently, considerable investments in digital health technologies such as Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) and Flash Glucose Montoring (FGM) need to be made, and every patient who desires one should be able to have access through public coverage.

Our #AccessForAll campaign is working towards ensuring that every Canadian living with type 1 diabetes has access to affordable technology. CGM and FGM technologies represent an evolution in the self-management of the disease because they provide richer, more accurate and more timely data to doctors and patients about fluctuations in blood glucose and time in range. This rich data promises to revolutionize how health care teams interact with and guide patients, leading to better diabetes management over the long-term. More and better data means better decision-making for patients, which ultimately leads to better self-management of their disease. As a result, we will undoubtedly see substantial improvements to healthcare in the form of reduced hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and longer-term issues such as amputations, heart disease, stroke and kidney complications.

CGM and FGM have already been game changers for the type 1 diabetes community – they are already helping people live safer, easier and healthier. Unfortunately, they still largely remain unaffordable and inaccessible, especially for those who need it most.

JDRF continues to mobilize our #AccessforAll campaign, and we need your help to tell your provincial representative this story, in light of the new situation we find ourselves in with COVID-19. To support the campaign, take a few minutes to send a message to your representative, and you will be voicing important concerns in response to a new era of healthcare. Send a message today!

Tannis M. Richardson: T1D Champion Gives Back to the Community

May 5, 2020

Tannis Richardson is a spirited woman who has devoted much of her life to local and charitable causes while touching countless lives. A founding member of JDRF’s Winnipeg chapter (1971) and founder of its annual A Starry Starry Night Gala, the nonagenarian is renowned in Western Canada for her extraordinary volunteerism and dedication to arts, health and cultural associations.

Giving back to others has been a way of life since Tannis was a young girl growing up in Winnipeg. Her parents were always community-minded, with her surgeon father establishing the first collective medical facility, the Winnipeg Clinic, and her mother lending support to various organizations. “My parents were extremely wonderful role models,” recalls Tannis.

Tannis’s first volunteer experience was with the Humpty Dumpty Club at the Winnipeg General Hospital. Each Saturday she would accompany her father to the hospital to play with, and read to, the young patients in the children’s ward while he completed his rounds. She would later become a volunteer nurse’s aide during WWII, which was also very rewarding.

“I’ve had experiences that I treasure,” remarks Tannis. “Through the journey in life one experiences encounters with strangers that you don’t expect to have, which enrich your own life and hopefully does the same for them.”

When it was discovered that one of their four children had type 1 diabetes (T1D), Tannis and her husband, George, found themselves thrust into unfamiliar territory, which would soon see them become catalysts of change. Diagnosed at the age of nine, their daughter, Pamela, fought a valiant battle against a disease that was not well known at the time and had few supports in place within Canada’s healthcare system.

“It is high time we had coverage because it is a dreadful burden to put on people. I am encouraged by the support that JDRF is giving to families and that type 1 diabetes is better understood by the general public.”

“There was very little communication about Pamela’s treatment in the medical field back then,” Tannis recalls. “We were required to go from one hospital to another and there were few to support us besides our family and friends because communication between different health services was lacking regarding type 1 diabetes.”

Pamela died at the age of 29 from complications of T1D. Not long after, Tannis and George attended a Toronto gala for JDF (now JDRF) where they met Helaine Shiff, another JDRF Canada founder, who challenged them with: “What are you going to do in Winnipeg?”

Shortly after returning home, Tannis and George attended a function where they met CBC entertainer, Donald Ferguson. In conversation he turned to Tannis to ask, “What are WE going to do about JDF in Winnipeg?” Tannis replied with, “Who are WE?” To which Donald replied, “CBC and you.”

In 1987 CBC was bringing the Royal Canadian Air Farce to Winnipeg and Donald suggested that JDRF should sell the tickets with the proceeds going to support juvenile diabetes research.

“With the Canadian Air Farce as entertainment we made $64,000 that night,” Tannis remembers fondly. “About half the committee had no diabetes in their family, and I was amazed by how many friends came to help. They were incredible people and it was a very special time.”

The following year the committee organized Winnipeg’s first JDRF gala, A Starry Starry Night, which was held at the plaza at City Hall. Today, some 33 years later, the annual gala remains one of Winnipeg’s premier events.

Tannis has chaired JDRF’s local fundraising committee and served on the National Executive Committee and Board of Chancellors, as well as with JDRF International. Forever keen, she remains committed to helping those with T1D. Currently, Manitoba only covers insulin pumps for people with T1D under 18 years of age. As a result, Tannis continues to work towards securing free coverage for insulin pumps for all Manitobans.

“It is high time we had coverage because it is a dreadful burden to put on people,” she says. “I am encouraged by the support that JDRF is giving to families and that type 1 diabetes is better understood by the general public.”

Asked about the social footprint she would like to leave, Tannis keeps it simple. “I would like to be remembered as being approachable and caring about others’ well-being. I don’t like to be called a philanthropist because everyone can be aphilanthropist by giving of their time and support to others.”

Which brings Tannis to one of her favourite memories that she has “treasured in  her heart” throughout the years. It was in 1988, the morning of the first A Starry Starry Night Gala, and committee members were setting up at City Hall. A woman making her way down the steps to the plaza asked Tannis what was happening. Tannis replied “…that a wonderful evening was in store and that everyone attending would be donating towards finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.” The woman hesitated a moment before opening her well-worn purse. Taking out a dollar bill, she handed it to Tannis and said, “I hope this helps you find a cure for diabetes.”

“I remember thinking, philanthropy comes in many forms,” says Tannis. “As the woman walked away, tears came to my eyes and I thought that this person has given what she was able for the betterment of others, which is the definition of philanthropy.”