This week we are excited to interview Cory Conacher, a professional NHL hockey player with the Tampa Bay Lightning who is living with Type 1 Diabetes. Cory was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 8, and has pursued his passion of Ice Hockey his entire life. Cory has played professional Hockey for over 10 years. In 2012, Cory won the Les Cunningham award, the AHL's League MVP, becoming just the 4th Rookie in league history to earn this award. I really enjoyed our conversation and Cory's story is an example of grit and never losing focus on your goals. He has successfully leveraged Type 1 Diabetes as a motivator, and continues to push through obstacles. Enjoy!
When people are diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes, many are thrown into a sea of confusion. For Cory Conacher, a professional Hockey player with Tamper Bay lightening, being a Type-1 diabetic hasn’t stopped him from being the person he always wanted to be.
Cory is from Canada and was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes when he was 8 years old. Cory recalls how he was always using the restroom as a child, and that one day his mother decided they should visit the family doctor about this. In Canada, unlike in America, the average blood-sugar level is between 4 and 8. Cory’s level, when he was diagnosed, was 13!
When the doctor confirmed that Cory had Type-1 diabetes, Cory, as an 8-year-old, didn’t really understand the full implications of the diagnosis. He was, however, dealt a heavy blow when his hockey coach, at 14, told him that he was too small to play professional hockey. Also, the coach played down Cory’s chances of making it as a professional player because of his size and diabetic condition.
This coach’s disapproval sparked a fire in Cory, and he decided that he was going to prove his coach and every other person who doubted his abilities wrong.
Cory went on to play in the OHL and for other professional hockey teams. For Cory, he says he tries to never use his diabetic condition as an excuse for feeling bad.
When he got his pump at 12, Cory was elated beyond words. He found the pump easier and faster than having to take regular jabs of injection.
Cory credits his grit and discipline as a person and a hockey player as what has empowered him to live life as a Type-1 diabetic athlete. He believes that the attention to detail he has learned over time directly result from being a diabetic.
All throughout his journey as a hockey player, Cory has been open about his condition. Well, there were two times when he didn’t come out forthright to tell his teammates about his condition. On one of those days, he suffered a sugar-low, and his roommate and teammate had to call his mom at 2 in the morning to ask for help.
Cory believes that speaking up about his condition has helped him connect with people. He says that most people are willing to help and learn about Type-1 diabetes if patients open up about it.
He understands how hard it can be for people suffering from Type-1 diabetics to open up, but he strongly recommends doing so because opening up helps other people understand you better.
Cory is glad for how far technology has come in helping Type-1 diabetics live better lives. Cory calls the sickness a 24-hour sickness because you can never say, “hey, I don’t want to be a diabetic today, can we try again tomorrow?”
Cory has made it his life’s work to always encourage people living with diabetes. He says that Type-1 diabetics are not so different from other people and, if anything, diabetics are more disciplined and have learned to appreciate the little things in life more than others.
As a hockey player, Cory wishes the pumps he uses would be smaller and sturdier so he and other athletes can have them on while engaged in their different sporting activities.