We recently met Tony Castillo, a 40-year-old teacher from Odessa, Texas, who in mere months transformed himself from self-proclaimed couch potato to “athlete in training.” On July 28, he’ll ride for 32 miles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Tour de Cure®, with his son by his side.
We were so impressed by Tony that, in the spirit of Tour de Cure season, we invited him to share his personal story with our readers.
Read on, then let us know: Why do you ride to Stop Diabetes?
In November 2011, around my fortieth birthday, I was diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes. I guess I should have been more careful with my health. My dad has diabetes, so while I wasn’t guaranteed to get it, my chances were higher than average.
My doctor turned to me and said, “You can fix this, or I can fix this for you.” I set out to do whatever I could to get healthier. For now I depend on regular shots of insulin and take medications twice a day. The rest is up to me.
If I ignore my diabetes, I could develop glaucoma and lose my eyesight. I could have heart problems. I could develop infections that might end in loss of life or limb. I could not live to see my children grow old—and they might find themselves on the same path later in life. None of those options sound very appealing to me.
Having diabetes isn’t a curse, but it does mean I have to be more careful. I have to limit the amount of carbohydrates I eat. I need to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. Now these are things I should have been doing regularly all along, but just didn’t. Why not? I guess I felt like there would always be time in the future. Well, that future is now.
But I am healthier for it. I am losing weight: I have gone from being morbidly obese (more than 100 pounds over my ideal weight) to just overweight, and I won’t stop there.
I searched online for exercise for people with diabetes and quickly found out about the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. My doctor recommended I start exercising with a stationary bike, so it seemed like a good fit. The nearest ride was in Dallas, six hours away from my home, but I decided to commit anyway.
Better yet, my son Joseph, who’s almost 13, decided to ride with me for support. I love spending extra quality time with him—and our training is going really well! I can’t believe I went from being someone who rarely got off the couch to an athlete in training.
I joined Team Grizzly, the team of my support group. I also registered as a Red Rider and before I knew it was recruited as co-captain of Team Red, the team for Tour participants who live with diabetes and those who support them. Together these groups have raised thousands of dollars for the American Diabetes Association.
I am so stoked about riding in the Dallas Tour de Cure—I mean, it takes place at the Texas Motor Speedway, how cool is that? When I cross the finish line, I expect I will be overwhelmed by how far I have come since November. I hope to complete my 32 miles in time to cheer on the riders of the 64-mile course when they finish.
Another way I’m spreading the word is by sharing my journey with my fourth-grade students. They’re just the right age to start learning about living healthy to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, and they enjoy seeing my progress. I’ve also started leaving pamphlets in the teachers’ lounge to inspire my colleagues. Everyone can be a part of the solution to Stop Diabetes.
So why do I ride? Because millions of people live with diabetes (in some cases, for years before symptoms show up). Many more people each day are diagnosed. It is a silent epidemic. In fact, more people die of diabetes and related complications each year than die of breast cancer and AIDS combined.
I am choosing not to be silent, but to be part of the solution to diabetes—no more if, ands or buts. As I continue to improve my health, I hope my pancreas will start to remember what it’s supposed to do, so I can eventually stop taking meds and insulin.
Will I be cured? No. There is no cure for diabetes—yet.
Have a great ride, Tony and Joseph!
Believe it or not, we first met Tony through our Facebook community, so be sure to become a fan today. Like this blog, it’s a great place to keep up with the Association—and also a great way to meet others affected by diabetes.