Mediaplanet: Tell us about your experience with diabetes.

Sébastien Sasseville: I’m 39 years old now and was diagnosed at 22. So much has changed since day one. It was frightening at first. Typically, those with type 1 diabetes don’t know what it is or what it entails. You’re just told that you’ve been diagnosed with something pretty severe, and that’s hard. But very early on, I consciously chose to not let it negatively affect my life.

A lot of people are in denial, but I knew I was going to live with this for the rest of my life so I might as well accept it and make it a part of my life.

MP: What do you wish more people knew about diabetes?

SS: That the burden shouldn’t fall solely on health care professionals. As patients, we’re going to be in their offices for 15 minutes, a few times in the year. But this is something that takes time to figure out, and that we need to experiment with — learn, test, and try different things. It’s a lifelong commitment.

MP: Is there a part of your diabetes journey that’s been particularly triumphant?

SS: Climbing Mount Everest and running across Canada have been my biggest challenges and triumphs. They were aspirations I had before being diagnosed and I’m so happy that diabetes didn’t get in the way of my achieving them.

These accomplishments showed that it’s possible to exercise at a very high level with type 1 diabetes. I remember meeting a man who had a daughter with type 1 diabetes. He told me his daughter was just thrilled  when I reached the summit. He said, “I personally don’t care about Mount Everest, but it’s about what it means to my daughter. Now she knows she can do whatever she wants.” I’m so happy to be an inspiration for others.

Credit: Patrick St-Martin

MP: What’s one piece of advice you have for Canadians living with diabetes?

SS: Take ownership. You have to be involved and you have to make an effort. It requires work, but if you put in the time, you’ll learn to manage your disease and be able to focus on what you really love to do.

Sébastien’s book One Step at a Time came out this fall and is available on Amazon and at