Friday, 31 January 2014

Sébastien Sasseville and the Politics of the Big Heroic Undertaking

I can still get goosebumps thinking/hearing about Terry Fox and his legendary run.

Sébastien Sasseville, on the other hand? Type 1 diabetic about to embark on his own extended marathon from Signal Hill, NL, to Victoria, BC, in order to demonstrate that diabetes needn't be a barrier to reaching one's goals ... I dunno. The guy himself seems, from the very little I know, perfectly congenial and well-meaning, and there's a lot to be said for someone like him demonstrating to bummed-out diabetic kids (or adults) that their life isn't over ... so I need to work a bit to figure out why his run doesn't excite me very much.

It's one of the things I pondered while Freddie and I walked yesterday ...

Part of it could simply be that he's not Terry Fox. Not as young, or as innocent ... as fragile, or, I'd venture to guess, as tough.
It could be the slick media and corporate machinery that he and his supporters have built up around this and other big athletic challenges that M. Sasseville has undertaken in his career as a motivational person ... the commodification of inspiration??

Maybe it's Sébastien Sasseville's connection to Mount Everest (he boasts the title of first Canadian T1 diabetic to summit Everest) and, thus, to the culture of "conquering nature." Does anyone remember that IMAX movie about a particularly disastrous Everest expedition? As I recall, the movie treated the participants in the expedition as heroes (including a group leader whose wife was roughly 7 months pregnant when he left home for the climb, only to perish on the peak). Heroes? I thought they were kind of selfish and stupid — but that seemed to be a minority opinion!

(Speaking of conquering nature, here's Freddie, conquering a serious log!)

Maybe it's the focus of the run: "to inspire and empower the 3 million people in Canada living with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest." OK, not as maddeningly misleading as the ol' You can do anything you set your mind to! rhetoric ... but still. C'mon, Sébastien. Bobby Clarke, Mary Tyler Moore, Bret Michaels, Halle Berry, that guy who plays for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, etc. etc. have already demonstrated that diabetics can do wild and wacky things. Sure, the motivational aspect of your run will be big and important ... but how about raising a crapload of dough and giving it all to the Faustman Lab (or some other underfunded, cure-obsessed organization), so you and I can do whatever wacky, inspirational shit we want to do ... WITHOUT DIABETES?!

Zowie — a rarity! Three consecutive readings in the 5s. Freddie was on edge for all this time, waiting for me to crash (I think), as the past week or so has been nothing but HIGH, HIGH, HIGH!
I do hope Sébastien's run is a success — in Diabetes Land, as elsewhere, there's no such thing as bad press (well, except the kind that claims T1 can be cured with a raw food diet or cinnamon extract etc.) — and I hope he makes it out here for his target date of November 14th, 2014 (World Diabetes Day / Dr. Banting's birthday). Despite my reservations, I can imagine getting excited about his arrival ... maybe even taking Freddie to meet him.

Still ... personal connections nothwithstanding, it's hard for me to imagine the Outrun Diabetes campaign, or any other Big Heroic Undertaking of its kind, being able to stir me quite like Terry Fox's low-tech, low-profile, highly inspirational Marathon of Hope.

Peaceful Ocean

Have an inspired weekend, everyone!


  1. We do not have to go very far to recognize a hero in her own right. A talented writer, a world traveller, an educator, a dedicated rower, an enthusiastic dog trainer, a loving wife, etc. I'm sure I've missed something..........Oh yes, she has T1 diabetes!

    1. Sounds like a brand of heroism only parents can see ... thanks, Action. :)

  2. Hi Heather! I just finished reading your blog. Thank you for sharing it with me :D Also, Freddie is so cute! I really appreciate you connecting with me and as well, sharing your views on Sebastien's run. I'm trying to figure out the best way to keep track of all the blogs out there. I will bookmark you and hope to connect again soon. Great photos too!

    1. Hi there, J! Thanks so much for the visit and the comments ... I'm enjoying your blog, too. Keep it up!


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