Cade Baker: T1D Looks Like Me
Chapter President Cade Baker (Grand Valley State University, 2019) is one of two members of Iota Upsilon Chapter at Grand Valley State University with type 1 diabetes. When Baker joined Delta Tau Delta in February 2016, he joined Josh Stirton (Grand Valley State University, 2019) who pledged the previous fall.
“Having a chapter brother with T1D is excellent,” said Baker. Before joining Delt, he hadn’t had much interaction with others with type 1 diabetes and was unfamiliar with the similarities and differences between individuals. “It was very interesting to swap stories about how we both became diabetic and what symptoms we get when our sugars are off. It’s also reassuring to know that there is a brother who has an intricate knowledge of T1D if an emergency occurs,” said Baker.
Baker’s diagnosis with T1D came during his sophomore year of high school. It was tryouts week for the baseball team, and he experienced an unusual difficulty breathing. His mouth was consistently dry. After two days of difficult tryouts, he saw a doctor and described his symptoms.
“My symptoms included dry mouth, difficulty staying awake, painful swallowing of food and shortness of breath. I was told to go to the hospital for tests, and shortly after, they discovered my blood sugar was approaching 500 mg/dL,” Baker said. For comparison, he explains that a person’s typical blood sugar is between 70-120mg/dLn. Tests following the high blood sugar reading confirmed that he had T1D.
Two years later, just when Baker had established comfortable routines and grown accustomed to managing T1D, he faced the adjustment of transitioning to college. Moving beyond his high school schedule where he had consistent times for lunch, practice, workouts and bedtime was much more complex than for someone who is not managing T1D. “Leaving that routine meant checking my blood sugar more often to ensure that it was not falling out of range. The transition became easy after a few weeks, but it does take a period of adjustment from semester to semester,” said Baker.
As a freshman at Grand Valley State, he met a friend from his dorm room who joined Delta Tau Delta in the fall of 2015, and the friend convinced Baker to consider Delt during the winter [recruitment] season. During one of the first recruitment events, he learned about Delt’s partnership with JDRF. “The brothers were discussing Delt’s national partnership with JDRF, and that was when I first told them that I was a T1D,” Baker said.
Chapter members’ welcoming reaction affirmed his interest in joining the Fraternity. “I decided to join Delt because of the people that I met,” Baker said. “They reminded me of my own brothers, and I was able to connect with them. There was always a member that would try to involve you in something. I would get texted about things as simple as coming over to watch a game on TV to joining an intramural league. That level of inclusion and brotherhood was what made me choose Delt.”
Now as a chapter president Baker takes pride in the influence Delta Tau Delta has on campus through JDRF-focused events the chapter hosts. Chapter members strive to provide fun campus events that appeal to a cross-section of students to raise money for JDRF and spread awareness of type 1 diabetes. Their work helps to foster a greater understanding of T1D throughout the campus community.
Individually, Baker finds himself in the position of educating others. “Many people believe that type 1 diabetics have to live differently than everyone else. Luckily, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I can still play the same sports, eat the same foods and have all the experiences that I used to before my diagnosis,” said Baker.
Baker encourages Delts to support JDRF because that support is fundamental to curing diabetes. “The reason I can live such a comfortable life is the advances in blood glucose monitoring and synthetic insulin injections. Supporting JDRF means that students like me get one step closer to living just as I did before receiving my diagnosis,” Baker said.