Local rapper pens a new song to raise diabetes awareness
A Calgary rapper is raising awareness of diabetes through the power of music, one year after his own diagnosis.
Shea Rodger, who goes by the stage name Chedda Cheese, released his song Diabetes for Christmas one year after he received a phone call in late December of 2016 informing him he had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes Canada estimates between 250,000 and 300,000 Canadians are living with Type 1 diabetes.
“It’s an autoimmune condition whereby the body’s immune system, for reasons we don’t fully understand, all of a sudden decides that the cells in our body that produce insulin are like a virus and kills them,” said Kimberley Hanson, director of federal affairs of Diabetes Canada, who also has Type 1 diabetes. When he got the call last year, Rodger said it was stressful, especially because his doctor told him to go to an emergency room right away because his blood sugar was too high. “They wanted to get it under control before I did any more damage to my body,” said Rodger.
Despite his brother being diagnosed with the same type of diabetes at around two or three years old, Rodger’s own diagnosis still came as a surprise.
“I started having symptoms, I had blurry vision and was feeling dehydrated, and then I started looking up those symptoms and saw that diabetes was a possibility,” said Rodger.
“But before that, it was something I never would have expected to happen.”
Hanson says it was commonly thought that only children could get Type 1 diabetes, and so it was previously referred to as Juvenile Diabetes. But that’s changing.
“We’re seeing that even adults are getting it due to something funny that happens to a person’s immune system,” said Hanson.
“There’s nothing that a person can do to (cause or) prevent it, it really just is one of those very random things.”
Rodger’s new song was also a way for him to express his feelings about the diagnosis.
“Once I released it, I realized how much of an impact it has on other people with diabetes as well,” said Rodger.
“I’ve gotten a lot of messages from other diabetics telling me they really like the song and it’s helped them out, so I think it’s a good way to show support for other people in a similar situation and see that I’m doing OK with diabetes and that they can be doing all right as well if they take care of themselves.”
Hanson says Rodger’s song is important because it helps others become aware that someone they know or love may have it. They can then also recognize the symptoms, which include extreme thirst, frequent urination and “fruity-smelling breath.”
“(Also) recognize that there isn’t one body type or one age group that is uniquely disposed to getting diabetes,” said Hanson.
“I think that it’s great that this young man has channelled his experience into his art form and I love that it’s helping to raise awareness, and I wish him nothing but the best.”