Dad: He’s often the keeper of jokes, master of grills, and navigator of hardware stores.
Dads can be lovable, tough, funny, and sensitive. They can be athletes, weekend warriors, and obsessive groundskeepers. Many of them love their tech, even if they can’t always work it, and they’re happy to get a tie for Father’s Day because they know it’s the thought that counts.
For Father’s Day this year, we spoke with two dads on different coasts to learn more about their journeys as parents living with type 1 diabetes.
One is a highly accomplished runner on the West Coast. The other is a New Yorker who has dedicated himself to helping others. A continent separates them, and they’ve never met, but their love for their children — and their refusal to let type 1 diabetes define them — is their common thread.
Eric Tozer: A man on the run
Only one person gets to be the first to do something. Eric Tozer wanted to be the first person with type 1 diabetes to complete the World Marathon Challenge. That’s seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. In 2019, he made that dream a reality with a whirlwind week that took him from Antarctica to Miami, with five continents in between.
Eric Tozer became the first person with type 1 diabetes to complete the World Marathon Challenge, which is seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
“I wanted to show that we can accomplish the seemingly impossible,” Eric said. “I want kids, families, and adults to go after their own dreams.”
He takes that same motivational and inspirational approach to his parenting. A father of two daughters, ages 5 and 8, Eric has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2006. He doesn’t just want to tell his kids what they can accomplish, he wants to show them.
“T1D is hard,” he said. “It’s mentally, physically, and emotionally demanding. Yet it’s because of that daily challenge, through winning those little victories each day, that we become physically and mentally tougher ... I can’t quit T1D. I approach everyday challenges with the same anti-quit approach.”
For Father’s Day this year, Tozer is looking forward to some time on the golf course with his wife and daughters, along with a little pool time. He knows there are challenges to being a dad in 2021, but those will never dampen the rewards.
“I can have the worst day in the world and the girls will come up to me and say, ‘I love you’ — or say nothing at all — and everything else disappears,” he said. “I try to be a dad who instills core values that will set them up for success. Principles like respect, kindness, and integrity. I want them to understand that people have differing views, and that is wonderful, so long as we treat each other with respect and kindness.”
Eric said he was waiting for an advanced hybrid closed-loop system before returning to a pump to help with his diabetes management. He found what he needed with the t:slim X2™ insulin pump with Control-IQ® technology.
“Control-IQ technology has been the biggest game-changer in my type 1 diabetes management in the past decade,” Eric explained. “The very first 24 hours, it helped correct my overnight highs and lows, which was one of my biggest areas that needed improvement. I wake up every morning with my blood sugars in range. That’s a huge improvement and an ideal way to start the day.”
As an endurance athlete, Eric knows there are always going to be more “firsts” to chase, but he’s also found the simple happiness that comes with chasing his kids around the pool.
Justin Bradway: Always helping others
Being a caregiver comes naturally to Justin Bradway. The 37-year-old father of three, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since he was 9, works for the State of New York as a direct care worker. His job is to go to the homes of people with intellectual disabilities and assist them.
Justin Bradway and his sons, Trevor and Gavin, are all living with type 1 diabetes. He wants them to know, “You can grow up to be anything and do anything you want."
When he returns to his own home, besides managing his type 1 diabetes, he’s also caring for his two sons, Trevor (10) and Gavin (8) who have T1D. His daughter, Savannah (5), is on CGM, though she hasn’t officially been diagnosed as type 1.
None of that impacts how he approaches fatherhood.
“What I love most about being a dad is watching my kids grow up and learn,” Justin said. “I love experiencing new things with them and love watching their different personalities.”
Since being diagnosed in 1993, Justin has never let his type 1 diabetes dictate his life. That’s the example he wants to set for his children.
“As long as you’re taking good care of yourself, you can grow up to be anything and do anything you want,” he said. “I use myself as an example to them. I’ve had type 1 for nearly 28 years and I’m living a happy and healthy life. I’m married and I have three beautiful children.”
Parents always want to ease their children’s burdens, so this is a connection to his kids that Justin would rather not have to share, but it’s a reality that he tackles head-on. And rather than letting it be a detriment, he treats it like an unbreakable bond that connects him with his kids.
“We all know what it’s like to feel good when we have good blood sugars,” Justin explained. “We know that we are more active, in better moods, and all-around feeling better when we are doing well. It also makes the hard times a little easier because we all know what it’s like to feel terrible from a stubborn high or a bad low.”
Justin and both of his boys use Control-IQ technology with their t:slim X2 insulin pumps. They all credit the predictive algorithm as life-changing technology that helped with their A1c levels.
“We absolutely love it,” Justin gushed. “Me and both of my boys have lowered our A1c levels, and my wife and I feel that Control-IQ technology is 100% the reason.”
Eric Tozer has a compensation agreement with Tandem Diabetes Care.
Our thanks to Eric and Justin for taking some time to chat with us about their journeys. A happy Father’s Day to you both, and to all of the dads out there who are living with diabetes or have kids with diabetes. Thanks for being such great role models for your families and communities.
From time to time, we may pass along suggestions, tips, or information about other Tandem insulin pump user experiences or approaches to the management of diabetes. Please note, however, individual symptoms, situations, circumstances, and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified healthcare provider regarding your condition and appropriate medical treatment. Please read the Important Safety Information before using a Tandem Diabetes Care product.
Responsible Use Control-IQ Technology
Even with advanced systems such as the t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology, users are still responsible for actively managing their diabetes. Control-IQ technology does not prevent all high and low blood glucose events. The system is designed to help reduce glucose variability, but it requires that users accurately input information, such as meals and periods of sleep or exercise. Control-IQ technology will not function as intended unless all system components, including CGM, infusion sets and pump cartridges, are used as instructed. Importantly, the system cannot adjust insulin dosing if the pump is not receiving CGM readings. Since there are situations and emergencies that the system may not be capable of identifying or addressing, users should always pay attention to their symptoms and treat accordingly.