Living

Crossing for a Cause

What’s one of the most extreme physical and mental tests you can imagine? For Neil McLagan, it is an event in which the isolation is as challenging as the terrain and environment.

Meet Neil. A 37-year-old family man and father of two. A Customs Broker by profession and an amateur athlete – an ultra-endurance road cyclist.

Ultra-endurance cycling is a sport in which cyclists set off for days, weeks, or months at a time. They take everything they need to survive (usually less than 10 kilograms) on a bike and go up against some of the most challenging courses in the world. In Neil’s case, that might be the Nullarbor, or the Australian outback, as he will soon be setting off from the beaches of Perth, Western Australia, and riding towards Sydney, New South Wales. It’s a total distance of 3900km.

As if the distance, environmental, and nutritional challenges are not difficult enough, he will make this trek while managing Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, and hypothyroidism. And he’ll be doing this completely solo and unsupported.

He has prepared for this excursion by embracing a low carbohydrate diet rich in whole foods, green leafy vegetables, healthy and sustainable sources of protein, and plenty of healthy fats. And, of course, by intensive exercise and training. He’s lived with Type 1 diabetes for twenty years, and he has found that this combination works well for him. “Having a well formulated approach ensures I reach all of my macro and micro nutrient targets, whilst having very good overall control of my type 1 diabetes, something I was unable to do using a conventional approach” says Neil.

He doesn’t think of himself as superhuman or extraordinary. He says he is simply a family man who did some research and realized what was possible for him. “By doing something a little out there (riding to Sydney), documenting my experience, and using tools such as continuous glucose monitoring, I can share my message—that things like this can be done while living with Type 1 diabetes.”

Neil is using this ride to raise funds for the Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, a one of a kind facility in Australia. Based in Perth, the organization prides itself on being able to provide peer and psychosocial support, as well as essential clinical services to help young people living with Type 1 diabetes cope with the disease. Neil’s reasons for supporting the organization are very personal:

When I was a young person diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, there was very little peer support available to me. I felt isolated, afraid, and alone, and I struggled immensely. Type 1 diabetes is a devastating disease for anyone to live with, but particularly a young person who is in the process of figuring out life for themselves. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to find the right support, which didn’t happen until much later in life. What the Family Centre does in providing peer support and clinical services resonates with me so deeply, that I’m driven by the passion to help support them. The best way I know how – on a bike!

Neil is proudly sponsored by Australian Medical & Scientific Limited (AMSL), the local distributor and service provider for Dexcom. “Demonstrating how essential CGM technology is has been a huge part of this journey,” he says. The bike ride will be a further experiment, in which he tests his nutritional and Type 1 diabetes management strategies on another level.

On the early morning of March 25, 2018, Neil will set off on his bike with every confidence that, once he reaches Sydney, he will have raised awareness for Type 1 diabetes and as much funds as possible for the cause.

To follow Neil’s journey and to make a donation, please check out his website: https://crossingforacauseat1djourney.wordpress.com/

Alternatively you can also check out Crossing For A Cause on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crossfort1

Do you have an idea you would like to write about for Insulin Nation? Send your pitch to submissions@insulinnation.com.

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