Mediaplanet: What challenges were immediately faced in regards to sports and athletics after receiving Zack’s diagnosis?

Cathy Corte: After being diagnosed, Zack was taking insulin injections four to five times a day and he had to eat a specific amount of carbohydrates at specific times within the day. We learned very quickly that each sport he played would have a different impact on his blood sugar levels.

Trying to ensure that he ate the correct amount of carbs prior to playing each sport was challenging. We would check his blood sugar levels prior to starting any activity and would also test him during these activities. If his blood sugar level was too high or too low, it would greatly impact his ability to play at that competitive level he was accustomed to.  

MP: What major influences allowed him to stay strong and continue his quest to be an elite athlete? We also hear that he met Max Domi?

CC: Zack was diagnosed in April of 2013 and we were lucky enough to attend a new hockey camp that was specifically for type 1 diabetics called DSkate.

This week-long camp is dedicated to teaching the kids and parents how to manage type 1 diabetes during sports. Cory Conacher and Chris Jarvis were a major influence in demonstrating to the kids that this disease would not prevent them from achieving their dreams.

Zack also met Max Domi at a hockey game in Oshawa.  Max spent some time with Zack sharing his story and experiences as a type 1 diabetic. Zack later learned that Max Domi had played for the Don Mills Flyers when he was younger and wore jersey No.16 after his idol Bobby Clarke. Zack is extremely excited to be playing with the Don Mills Flyers 2015 AAA hockey team next year and wear jersey No.16.

MP: How does Zack manage his diabetes, and how is it different for him compared to those who do not play sports?

CC: Zack is now on an insulin pump and wears a CGM sensor that reads his blood sugars every two to five minutes. The pump gives Zack more freedom and flexibility for everyday living, and allows us to manage his blood sugar more effectively for his sports. All physical exercise can have an accumulative effect on blood sugar levels resulting in changes several hours after the activity is over. Due to the amount of activities Zack participates in, we have to test him every two or three hours up to 15 -20 times per day.   

"The pump gives Zack more freedom and flexibility for everyday living, and allows us to manage his blood sugar more effectively for his sports."

MP: As a parent, what would you tell other parents who have children that have received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes?

CC: Learning to live with type 1 diabetes will be very hard and overwhelming at first, but this disease can be managed. Try and connect with other families and kids with type 1 diabetes for support and understanding. Learn as much as you can about how to manage this disease and know there is no right or wrong answer. It’s okay to say diabetes sucks and although this disease is a daily struggle, it will not prevent them from doing anything they want in life.

Video: Fred Cunha