Lo­cal rap­per pens a new song to raise di­a­betes aware­ness

Calgary Herald - - CITY - ANNA JUNKER

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.”

GAVIN YOUNG

Rap­per Chedda Cheese, whose real name is Shea Rodger, was di­ag­nosed with Type 1 di­a­betes in late De­cem­ber of last year.

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