Jen: Why Jay Cutler Matters to Me

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I've already confessed that I am painfully ignorant of all things football. We can't even nail down the date of the Super Bowl®, let alone know which teams are playing. But there is one quarterback who we really care about around here.

Jay Cutler. Obviously, this has to do with diabetes. Certainly we are impressed with his ability to lead a major NFL® team. (Which one again? Kidding!) And we are fortunate that he joins a cadre of top level athletes who just happen to have type 1 diabetes.

What really gets me excited about Jay Cutler is the story of his diagnosis. Unlike some of our other sports heroes, Jay did not have diabetes when he started playing football professionally. He was diagnosed while working as a quarterback for a professional team. His story is a great example of a couple of important points that I want my friends and neighbors to know about diabetes and how it works.

First, Jay was very physically fit. When James was diagnosed, you would be surprised at how many people thought that my young son developed diabetes due to his lifestyle. I get a lot of questions about "eating too much sugar," not exercising enough or being sedentary. It's difficult to make those types of wrong assumptions about an NFL athlete. Despite a grueling year-round exercise schedule, he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Second, Jay managed to go undiagnosed for a while. This seems to ring true with diabetes diagnoses. Jay reminds us as parents of kids with type 1 to tell our stories and let people know about the possibility of type 1, enabling them to contact their doctors if they suspect diabetes.

To write much more about Jay Cutler would belie my ignorance of the sport he plays and much of his career. I can say that I am grateful for his example, his apparent willingness to advocate for kids with type 1 and for his continuing prominence in the sport. Thank you, Jay, for living your life in such a way that I can teach others about diabetes, what to look for, what certainly doesn't cause type 1, and of course, what a person with diabetes is capable of.

I'll tell you what. If Jay makes it to the Super Bowl® next year, I'll even watch it.


About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I'm thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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