Exercise For Diabetes

Faces of Change

The Novo Nordisk travelling exhibit of the faces of people who have changed for the better after a diabetes diagnosis is now online. It’s been a long time coming.

For several months the exhibit has been on tour in major cities around the country. Now it’s coming to Chicago’s Navy Pier from September 26-29 and Atlanta’s Woodruff Park on October 17-20. Novo Nordisk is planning to continue promoting the Meet the Face of Change exhibit in 2009, but hasn’t announced the details yet.

Since it hasn’t come to the state where I live, Colorado, I haven’t seen it in person. But I am familiar with it. Mine is one of the 36 faces of change.

A Novo Nordisk representative pitched the story idea to me at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in Chicago in June 2007. I wrote it up in my free “Diabetes Update” newsletter.

But it wasn’t until my friend Gretchen Becker suggested that I could be one of the faces of change that I got back to them. Gretchen also posts regularly here and wrote one of the best books about diabetes, The First Year — Type 2 Diabetes: an Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. I reviewed the first edition of that book for the American Diabetes Association’s website.

Novo Nordisk surprised me. I didn’t expect them to include me, since I’ve never used any of their diabetes medications. In fact, I told them that I was using Byetta — and Novo Nordisk is coming out with a competing GLP-1 analog, liragutide. That’s a classy company.

My changed face is second from the right on the top row:
Photo by Kevin Moloney for Novo Nordisk, October 1, 2007
Photo by Kevin Moloney for Novo Nordisk, October 1, 2007

Novo hired famed New York Times photographer Kevin Moloney for my photo shoot. It was Kevin’s idea that we hike up to Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness for the shoot at first light.

That was fine with me. But it meant hiking for a couple of hours in the dark with nothing but headlamps to guide our way. The icy trail made it even more interesting.

I was glad to participate in the exhibit without any compensation. My only goal was to inspire others.

But I had assumed that my change they would write up was my weight loss. Instead they featured my hiking. My guess is that hiking is less common than losing weight — although with me they go together.

Strangely, participating in this exhibit about change also happened to change me. Not only did the photographer, Kevin, become a friend, but he has taught me a lot about photography. That in turn led to my new “Fitness and Photography for Fun” blog.

Is my face really changed? This was my face before I started on Byetta in February 2006:

Photo by Peggy Pannke-Smith, May 19, 2005

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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