BY RITA DEMONTIS, TORONTO SUN
Max Domi is a bright, handsome, personable young man with the clearest green eyes, the sweetest smile, and a bright future in professional hockey.
This 20-year-old Canadian hockey player is also living with Type 1 Diabetes, a serious disorder of the pancreas, when it doesn’t produce insulin to regulate blood sugar. He also suffers celiac issues.
Yet, from the moment of his diagnosis at age 12, Domi, who was drafted to the Arizona Coyotes in 2013, has never let his illness get in the way of a good save or a hat trick.
“Having diabetes is life changing, but not in bad way,” says Domi, son of famed NHLer Tie Domi. “It’s very manageable. When I was first diagnosed, it was a rude awakening, and there was a sense of adversity. But I have had tremendous support, and I’ve learned to be very disciplined – diabetes does not define who I am.”
Domi credits the diligence of his family, the support of his peers, and the impact NHL legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke had on him when he met him during a junior hockey tournament a few years back.
“I can’t begin to tell you the effect that meeting had had on me, especially when I found out that he, too, is a Type 1 diabetic…if I can give back just a fraction of what Bobby Clarke has given to me, I still wouldn’t be able to achieve his impact.”
So great was Clarke’s influence that Domi wears the No. 16 – Clarke’s number – in his honour.
There were those who predicted these two hockey players could not cope with diabetes and play professionally – but the two pros have definitely proven the naysayers wrong: Clarke stands on his own merit with an illustrious career that has set standards in the hockey world. And, although young, Domi has garnered an impressive amount of accolades in his own right: Before entering the NHL, Max played in the OHL with the London Knights and was a member of Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, where the team won gold. Max was named the tournament’s best forward.
And yet, explains Domi, diabetes continues to be a most misunderstood disease. Just recently Bayer commissioned a national survey that revealed 82% of Canadians agree that having diabetes limits what you can do with your life, among other shocking misconceptions about the disease. The messaging was sobering – many Canadians don’t think people with diabetes can lead extraordinary lives.
And yet, recent research shows that more than three million Canadians have diabetes, and an estimated one in three people will be affected by 2020. The good news is advances in medical technology has streamlined the handling and controlling of diabetes: Domi uses cutting-edge technology (he wears a special pump that administers insulin directly into his system, and he carries with him a special “tool box” with everything he needs to monitor his blood sugar every day).
Plus “I just listen to my body. How I live my life today is my lifestyle – I’m like everyone else except I just happen to have diabetes.”
Domi is passionate about diabetes awareness and regularly encourages young diabetic patients to follow their aspirations and not let diabetes get in the way. In fact, he says he finds great satisfaction in sharing and mentoring young diabetics. “When I tell my story to others, I’m gratified to get the message out that diabetes does not define who you are. It’s giving me a chance to empower others with my story.”
Just recently Domi partnered with Bayer Canada and their Powered by Accuracy initiative to spread the word that one can live a high performance lifestyle with diabetes. “We know that many Canadians don’t think people with diabetes can lead extraordinary lives…Max Domi is a living example that this is not the case.”
How can you pay it forward? Share his story at PoweredByAccuracy.ca to help support diabetes research and advocacy.
Max would be thrilled if you helped share the message.