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The First Canadian T1D to Climb Mt. Everest

Sebastien Sasseville was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22. He recalls being faced with a choice: cave in and let the disease get the best of him or grab the obstacle by the hand learn to live well with it. Despite reaching the summit of Mt Everest to prove that diabetes should never keep us from living to the fullest, the heart of Sebastien’s philosophy is not about beating diabetes, but rather welcoming it in our lives and embracing it. Sasseville didn’t choose diabetes, but he chose to make te best of his life with it and used it to motivate him to reach new heights (literally.). His difficult and humbling journey toward acceptance has been filled with powerful lessons. There have been so many positive lessons that sometimes diabetes has felt like a vehicle of growth and empowerment, and therefore a gift to Sasseville.
Hear more about his journey in the video below.

Introducing The Lyfebulb Market Place!

Dear Lyfebulb Family:

We have curated a one-stop shop for all of your favorite diabetes-friendly products! The Lyfebulb Market Place features products that were created by Patient Entrepreneurs, aka individuals who are living with, or are affected by a chronic disease.

We are proud to currently feature Myabetic, Be Mixed, Beyond Type 1, I Have The Sugars, and Anna PS in our Market Place!

We also have our own Lyfebulb Products!

“The Everything You Need To Know About Diabetes Cookbook” written by Karin Hehenberger, includes 70 delicious recipes and diabetes management tips.

We teamed up with Louise Bak Refshauge to bring you a DIY ‘Bling Your Pen’ insulin pen case sold in three options- gold, clear rhinestone, or multicolor- so you can design your pen case just the way you like it!

Finally, we partnered with boxer, painter, and T1D Omar Hassan to design t-shirts that feature his artwork, with all proceeds going towards diabetes awareness.

We believe that each of the products curated on our site will make living life with diabetes easier and more fun!

 

Patient Entrepreneur Brianna Wolin of Find Your Ditto Selected as the First Recipient of the Lyfebulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Award

Innovation Award Recognizes One Patient Entrepreneur for Her Innovative Idea for Management of Diabetes Using Consumer, Medical Devices, or Healthcare Information Technologies

NEW YORK, Dec. 07, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Patient Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Find Your Ditto, Brianna Wolin was named recipient of the inaugural Lyfebulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Award for her work in addressing the management of diabetes. Brianna was selected from a grouping of ten finalists after dozens of Award submissions were received from 15 countries. The selection was made by a panel of judges consisting of international representatives of the diabetes patient community.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/cad5bf80-ac92-4973-9ba5-3d147b14a7f3.

“To be recognized by an innovative organization such as Lyfebulb and Novo Nordisk, a global pharmaceutical leader in diabetes care, is a true honor and an affirmation that our work to helping change the landscape surrounding isolation and depression in chronic illness communities is fully worthwhile,” said Brianna Wolin. “I’m so proud to have our mission – creating a world where no person living with a chronic illness ever has to feel alone – is highlighted by this award.”

The Lyfebulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Award spotlights one outstanding patient entrepreneur’s innovative efforts and ideas to better manage chronic disease via consumer products, medical devices, or healthcare information technology.

Brianna Wolin was selected from a distinguished grouping of patient entrepreneur finalists that included:

Shilo Ben-Zeev, Smartzyme, Israel;
Jeff Dachis, OneDrop, USA;
Shantanu Gaur, MD, Allurion, USA;
Matt Loper, Wellth, USA;
Charles O’Connell, FitScript, USA;
Scott Smith, Socrates, USA;
Anna Sjoberg, Anna PS, Sweden;
John Sjolund, Patients Pending Ltd, UK;
David Weingard, Fit4D, USA;
Brianna Wolin, Find Your Ditto, USA.

All finalists attended the Innovation Summit held December 6-7, 2016 hosted by Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Summit was designed to provide an opportunity for visibility and recognition in this highly competitive arena as well as professional discussion and inspiration for developing ideas further.

“With the global interest in and success of this first Award and event, we are excited about the future for the Innovation Award to grow and for Lyfebulb and Novo Nordisk to expand and strengthen our relationship,” said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, CEO and Founder of Lyfebulb. “Clearly, this effort demonstrates that patient entrepreneurs play a key role in helping people living with chronic disease. At Lyfebulb, we will continue to uncover and give voice to patient entrepreneurs who must be a part of the solution to chronic disease.”

Senior Vice President for Novo Nordisk Device R&D Kenneth Strømdahl added, “While patient-centered companies such as Novo Nordisk will continue to play an important role in bringing innovative solutions for people living with diabetes, this competition proves that passionate patient entrepreneurs are making a real difference to advance the management and care of a chronic condition such as diabetes.”

More information on the Innovation Award, the winner, the sponsors and Summit, as well as each of the finalists and selection process, can be found on the Lyfebulb Website.

About Brianna Wolin
Brianna Wolin is a passionate entrepreneur, biomedical engineer and food blogger.
Find Your Ditto, FYD, which began as a student project during her time at the University of Michigan, has earned Brianna several awards at the University as well as recognition by SPARK Ann Arbor, including a fully-funded entrepreneurial bootcamp experience and a commitment to continued guidance. Brianna has lived with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease the majority of her life. Her food blog, A Different Survival Guide, grew out of her need to cook all of her own low carb, gluten free meals unavailable in campus dining halls.
Brianna is the Chief Executive Officer of Find Your Ditto, responsible for engagement with universities and healthcare systems, marketing, legal matters, and company finances.

About Lyfebulb
Lyfebulb is an organization focused on bringing innovative products and solutions focused on chronic disease to market. Lyfebulb serves as a bridge between patients and industry, and its mission is to improve the quality of life of those living with chronic disease NOW.
See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn, and Lyfebulb LinkedIn.

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat other serious chronic conditions: hemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 42,300 people in 75 countries and markets its products in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit novonordisk.comFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Press Contact for Lyfebulb: 
Shepard Doniger
BDCG, Inc.
561-637-5750
sdoniger@bdcginc.com

There Is (Almost) Nothing You Can’t Do With Diabetes

Back when I graduated from high school in the summer of 1997, I partied hard and ate whatever I wanted. I was constantly hungry and started the habit of ending most days with eating a box of ice cream. Aside from the hunger, I was super tired, constantly thirsty and didn’t gain weight despite my insane calorie intake. But hey! I was partying and didn’t really think about it too much.

My family started to notice something was wrong after I had to nap during a family gathering, and urged me to see a doctor. I did, and he lectured me on proper nutrition for a while and then, just to be safe, measured my blood sugar, which pretty clearly showed that I had diabetes. That was a Friday.

The doctor sent me home and told me to go to a specialist Monday. I remember biking home, not knowing what the heck diabetes was and thinking that I was dying. That was incredibly scary. I didn’t know anybody with diabetes and was completely clueless to what it all meant. In hindsight, my doctor should have done a better job at explaining the situation to me, and if I hadn’t been so shocked, I should have asked more questions.

To this day, it baffles me that he would diagnose me with diabetes on a Friday afternoon and just send me home. I obviously still had some insulin production (that stopped completely later, which is expected) since I could still function and didn’t look like a walking skeleton, but still. Any diagnosis like that is a major traumatic event and I had to spend the entire weekend deadly nervous about what was going on.

On the other hand, it was actually a huge relief to know why I had felt out of whack for so long. It’s interesting how we humans can adapt to a situation and start accepting it as our reality. Like the fact that I hadn’t been able to sleep through the night or sit through a movie without having to go to the restroom. That I was so deadly tired and had no energy.

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Seeing a specialist and getting the right support

Monday morning my mom and I arrived at Steno Diabetes Center, one of the (in my opinion) best diabetes treatment facilities in Denmark, and they confirmed that I indeed had type 1 diabetes with a very small remaining insulin production.

I was assigned a nurse named Lotte, and she became my lifeline for the first few years. She was great because she firmly believed that I should live my life just as any other 19-year-old. I really took that to heart, and still live by the philosophy that I do not live my life to fit my diabetes; I manage my diabetes so it fits my life.

Aside from starting on insulin, inducing the first hypoglycemic event (to ensure that I knew what it felt like and what to do about it), and teaching me basic carb counting, those days at Steno Diabetes Center gave me a great foundation for my life as a diabetic.

I often get asked if the needles scared me. It’s funny how I’ll almost faint if I get a vaccination, but injecting myself was never a big deal. I remember sitting there, with Lotte and another nurse looking at me, thinking “well I guess that’s what I have to do to survive”, so I just did it. It didn’t hurt and now it’s second nature.

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Living with diabetes

I did what Lotte suggested and still pursued all my dreams. In November of 1998 (less than a year after my diagnosis), I packed my backpack and traveled around India for 3 months. Lotte and I kept in touch by fax (yes, fax!!), and when my insulin got spoiled by heat (twice), I managed to get new shipments sent to me in Bombay. It went fine. I had a great time, and it boosted my confidence to know that I could manage my diabetes, even on a 14-day camelback ride across Rajasthan.

After my diagnosis, I continued eating like I did before. My body had been starved for so long (due to the lack of insulin) that I probably needed the extra calories, but I went a little overboard. I cut out the box of ice cream, but I still ate like two grown men. So I gained weight, and I gained a lot of it very quickly. After 20 pounds, I pulled the breaks, and that’s when my fitness journey as a diabetic started.

You can read about how I dealt with my weight gain in this post.

I’m not saying it was easy, or that it is easy living an active life with diabetes, but I am saying that it shouldn’t be a hindrance to living a full life. The diagnosis was scary, but for me, it wasn’t so much the diagnosis, or the needles, or the blood sugar testing that bothered me. It was more the uncertainty about whether I could still do all those things I had planned to do with my life.

Luckily, all my experiences up to now have taught me that there is (almost) nothing you can’t do with diabetes!

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A little practical advice

To finish off this post, I would like to give a little practical advice on what to do after your diagnosis (the more difficult emotional advice will have to wait for another post).

  1. Find the right doctor. Your regular doctor is NOT qualified to deal with diabetes, so you need a specialist (Endocrinologist)
  2. Tell your friends and family. Not only will they have a ton of questions, you will also need their help and understanding while you figure out to handle your diabetes yourself. If you have a hypoglycemic episode in school or at work, you want the people around you to know what is happening
  3. Join an online network. There are some really good forums and Facebook networks for diabetic where you can ask questions and get support

When It Comes To Fighting Diabetes, We Are Indeed Stronger Together

Let’s all unite for National Diabetes Day Nov 14

Diabetes is a disease that can make you feel very lonely – it requires self-discipline, behavior modification, and a whole lot of courage. Diabetes never leaves you, there is no vacation from it even if you sometimes just want to forget about it!

I spent many years controlling my Type 1 diabetes (T1D) extremely well and then some years dismissing it. I wanted to have a life, not just be a person with diabetes. I never asked for help – my attitude was that I was going to solve the puzzle and get rid of this terrible condition once and for all. After studying the disease in med school and as a scientist, I realized it was not so simple. The people with diabetes who I encountered during my education and my early years with the disease, were mostly very sick, since the people I saw had ended up in the hospital where I was studying or working. I had absolutely no interest in connecting with them since I could not relate to them. I was, frankly, afraid of them, and surely not inspired or comforted by them. When I was working as an intern in the ER of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, or as a post-doc at Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center, I saw individuals who were struggling with foot ulcers, blindness, kidney or heart disease on a daily basis, and my mind became more and more set on not disclosing that I was one of them.

After leaving medicine and working in the life sciences industry, I stopped paying as much attention to my disease since the long-term consequences of the disease seemed very far away, while the near-term issues, such as having to fear low blood sugars and having to tell colleagues to accommodate to my eating habits were less desirable to someone living in the fast lane! Yet again, I did not relate to anyone with diabetes although there were several people who were going through what I was living and doing it well!

I now realize that I was wrong. Relating to others, opening up about issues in addition to strengths and weaknesses makes you stronger and it helps others as well as yourself!

Today, on National Diabetes Day we embrace fellow individuals living with diabetes, we welcome anyone who wants to share their story, and we encourage families and friends of people with diabetes to open up about their struggles.

At www.Lyfebulb.com we realize that this fight against a disease that is becoming a pandemic is not one to fight alone. We lead by example, fostering partnerships with fellow organizations to increase our reach, to expand our capabilities, and grow our community. We have also embraced mutual and diverse partners ranging from the global diabetes leader, Novo Nordisk for our Innovation Awardfocused on patient entrepreneurs, to art galleries Contini Art UK in London and Unix Gallery in Chelsea to showcase a performance by type 1 diabetic Omar Hassan on November 17th, to specially curated diabetic-friendly menus at Brasserie Ruhlmann in Rockefeller Center and Le Colonial in Midtown. We have also partnered with Punch Fitness Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to encourage exercise. In addition, we advise a number of smaller biotechnology and healthcare IT companies in their path toward improving the quality of life for people with diabetes, and we encourage entrepreneurs who are deriving their motivation for innovation and business-building from their own experiences with disease.

Today is a day to celebrate our unity, to celebrate our fight – but also to Live Lyfe with and without diabetes!

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This blog was also featured on The Huffington Post on November 14, 2016.

Omar Hassan: In Conversation

We are excited for our event in collaboration with Unix Gallery and Contini Art UK , where we will have a live performance by artist Omar Hassan! (Make sure to RSVP to andrew@unixgallery.com)

In anticipation, here is an interview between Contini Art UK’s sales and marketing director, Diego Giolitti, and artist Omar Hassan where Omar discusses the partnership with Lyfebulb, his inspiration, and his Breaking Through exhibition.

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Diego Giolitti: Welcome, Omar. I would like to start our conversation by talking about the upcoming event organized by Lyfebulb, the charity that has invited you to exhibit your work in a solo show in Manhattan, New York. What does this show mean to you as an artist? The fact that you are exhibiting in New York, and that you have been chosen by LYFEBULB to take part in this project? What are your expectations for the show? How do you see this experience unfolding and why did you agree to take part in the project?

Omar Hassan: New York is one of the world’s great capitals of the arts, having a solo exhibition here is really stimulating for me as an artist. The success and interest generated by my three previous exhibitions, that have been dedicated to my Breaking Through series, has created a level of expectation within the New York art scene, something that I am very flattered by and proud of. Above all, however, I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Lyfebulb. Dr. Karin Hehenberger (the head of Lyfebulb) and I have many things in common, but two factors have really stood out for me. Firstly, of course, is the fact that we both have type 1 diabetes, and secondly is the passion that we both put into our work in order to have as many people as possible understand that having a chronic illness does not mean that you cannot go on living your life and achieving your dreams. Lyfebulb’s goal is to change the quality of life and thinking of those who suffer from a chronic condition for the better, and this is something I strongly support.

Having a chronic illness does not mean that you cannot go on living your life and achieving your dreams.

DG: Indeed, there is a clear connection between this exhibition and your past ones. I regard this upcoming exhibition in New York as the next step along a path that started with your solo show at ContiniArtUK in London, your representative gallery, where you first exhibited pieces from the Breaking Through series. I remember at the time that you said to me, ‘I feel that these works fully represent my current production, but I also see them as belonging to a specific phase of my career.’ These words implicitly expressed your wish not to be misrepresented or labelled by the public as ‘Omar, the artist-boxer’. Can you expand on why your art can not be labelled as the work of a boxer turned painter? Why should we regard such a description of your work as false, or too limiting?

OH: I have always said that I wanted to incorporate a very important aspect of my life into my artistic research: namely boxing, the sport that has given me so much on both a personal and educational level. I wanted to bring to light the concept that lies behind this sport which, for me, can be considered as a metaphor for life. In boxing, as in life, you are alone; boxing requires hard work and daily effort; when you are knocked down you must get back up on your feet and continue to fight. In terms of what is put across by the media, who provide a superficial insight into the work I have done with my Breaking Through series, it may lead one to closely associate the terms “artist” with “boxer”. However, I want to point out that I am not a Floyd Mayweather Jr who suddenly started painting. Rather, I am an artist who studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, who carried out my own research in painting, and simply decided to incorporate a very important aspect of my life into my art.  In addition, boxing works well in terms of synthesizing a pictorial gesture with a strong visual impact, demonstrating the coherence of these paintings as a whole; in the sense that they belong to the same creative phase in my work. I am saying this without wishing to push the parallels too far, but we have had Fontana’s cuts and Pollock’s drippings, so why not Hassan’s punches? These synthesizing gestures can work, but only when they are contextualized within the broader framework of an artist’s oeuvre. So I believe it is important to contextualize this phase of my career. But I also believe that anyone – from collectors to casual observers – can clearly see that I am not merely a boxer who uses his sport to paints pictures.

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DG: This aspect is extremely important to me too and, as someone who has supported you since the beginning of your career, I want the public to know about it. I have watched your journey unfold and, especially in the past 2 years, I have witnessed a huge development, particularly in terms of technique. Thanks to a process of inner growth and maturation, your artistic identity has become even clearer, more distinct and, most importantly, more accessible. But we will get back to this point in a minute. Art is a message and can have an educational function, and I think that this aspect is very important in your case. Lyfebulb has chosen you because, among other reasons, through your artistic practice you have revealed something personal about yourself. Your Injections series directly references the fact that you have diabetes and, as previously mentioned, your Breaking Through series which clearly displays your love of boxing. Lyfebulb has chosen you so that you can be an example to others, showing them that, regardless of one’s initial situation, one can achieve anything in life. Each of us must find strength in his or herself and aim for his or her goal. Do you agree?

OH: Of course, that is what I meant when I was talking about boxing, but equally I do not presume to educate anyone. I believe in art being an experience that is part of our sensory and cognitive life. This is my motto. So I took facts and experiences from my life and turned them into something that the public could empathize with, something that others, too, could benefit from. Obviously I am honored to have been selected by Lyfebulb and I hope that I too can be an example (in the sense I have just explained) to young people and adults alike.

DG: Let us now talk about the use of gesture in your work. From an art theory perspective, it can be said that sign and gesture are the first steps towards the rationalisation of artistic production. Without the sign, comprehension is impossible. In my opinion, gesture has always been a dominant and fundamental element in your art. Of course, an artist’s technique and stance are a very revealing factor on which the resulting artwork depends.

OH: I have always been committed to keeping my painting contemporary and current. Nowadays it is very difficult to be original and contemporary with painting because of the amount of techniques which have already been explored throughout art history. Today, producing a painting means assuming a responsibility. I want to take this responsibility, I want to carry an artistic research through pictorial (and, in my case, primordial) gestures inspired by the works of the historical avant-garde as well as the new avant-garde in the last century. I have always tried to remain contemporary in my work through gestures that produce signs that lead to traces of the real. My approach has always remained the same ever since I started using cans of spray paint, the tools that originally inspired me to practice art and explore artistic expression. The can of spray paint became like a breath of life, bringing together my entire culture and tradition, leading me to more impetuous and instinctive gestures, like that of the punch in the Breaking Through paintings. This big punch is a simple (i.e., primordial) element. A punch has an incredible amount of concentrated energy that should not be considered in a negative light; it is both an acceleration of energy and a very fast movement.

DG: So, you do not want to make a distinction between sensation and thought. There is almost an element of spontaneous organization in what you do. The element of spontaneity.

OH: But my spontaneity is well thought-out.

DG: Do you mean that you deliberately channel your spontaneity?

OH: All of my work stems from an idea, from a concept; technique is never the starting point for me. I do not develop a concept after finishing the work; rather, the work is the result of the development of a concept.

DG: So there is a sort of balance between sensation and thought in your art, which is one of the hardest things to achieve for an artist. Another very interesting aspect of your work is its honesty – there is a part of yourself in your work, a part of your life. I am in love with your Injection painting titled “Self-portrait”, which has been included in this catalogue. I find it fascinating in that it is a reflection of your soul, of who you are as an artist. For me this piece depicts both the development of an idea, and the use of gesture, which is a truly distinguishing feature of your work. Something I have always wanted to know but was afraid to ask is, why this particular painting was the point when you said to yourself, ‘This is a portrait of myself’?  Could you describe the painting and share something about the process that led you to its creation?

Egyptian Italian artist Omas Hassan exhibtion. He uses his experience as a former boxer to create his work. Omas Hassan

OH: I painted this work during the preparation for my exhibition at ContiniArtUK in London. A classical frame surrounds a white-on- white dotted background that took several days to complete. Later on I spray-painted a black dot in the middle of the canvas, a singular point from which the paint drips down to the bottom of the canvas. I entitled it “Self- portrait” because since the very beginning I regarded it as the last painting in my Injections series, as it is a chromatic and conceptual synthesis. This explains the use of black and white. Everybody has inside them two different parts, one for the entire world to see, the other only for themselves. I wanted to bring out both of these parts. “Self-portrait” explains this dualism: what you see is not always the reality. Because it took me such a long time to paint the white element of the canvas and only only a few minutes to paint the small black dot, in that painting I am not the black dot but I am the white mass around it. It means that sometimes the things that stay in the background, the things you don’t see, are the most important. The essential is often invisible to the eye…

DG: This is a wonderful metaphorical translation of your self-portrait. The first time I saw that painting, with its title, I did not think it portrayed your physical features, your mood or your personality. After all, as I know you well, you are a cheerful person and could never be a black dot (an orange one, perhaps, since orange is your favorite color). You certainly know that white light is made of all the colors, while black neutralizes them all. I thought that this painting portrayed the difficulties of your artistic journey; I thought it represented a farewell to a specific expressive form (Injections) and the need to start a new phase. So, I interpreted it as an artistic transition. I am happy you said that because I feel that I managed to connect with your art and understand on a certain level, or at least I hope so. What do you want to achieve with this solo show in New York? What do you expect from it?

OH: I hope to expand my artistic horizons and start on a new path that will help me grow as an artist and as a person. I also hope that my experience in New York will be as stimulating as the one I had in London when I first exhibited at ContiniArtUK.

DG: Is there anything else you would like to say to your public? Anything that may help them to better understand you or your art, or that you just wish to emphasize?

OH: My motto is, ‘artistic research’. I will never be satisfied with a beautiful painting, I will always try to make more paintings, even worse ones, but I will never stop creating.

DG: What do you mean by ‘worse ones’?

OH: There is no guarantee that I will constantly improve, I do not presume to say that I will constantly improve; but I can certainly say that I will always try to do better.

DG: This is so beautiful, and you know, one of the things that I have always liked about you as an artist is that you do not settle for a style or form and reproduce it endlessly but, rather, you are constantly looking for new avenues to express your vision.

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