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Running with diabetes

Mike McGuffey liked to run. He liked to run a lot.

It was soon after he’d competed in his favorite Hood to Coast run – the 199-mile relay from Timberline Lodge to Seaside – that he first felt it.

In the beginning, the change was so small he barely noticed it. But every day there it was again . . . that sense that he just didn’t feel quite right. One day, and by then months of this had gone by, Mike finally called his mom. (It’s what boys do.)

And that was when things started happening in a hurry.

Mike grew up in the small Willamette Valley town of Dallas, played some football in high school, played some drums. He went off to the University of Oregon thinking he was going to be an economics hotshot. But soon enough he got seduced, as so many do, by the liberal arts. Goodbye, Adam Smith. Hello, Aristotle.

After graduating, Mike worked at the Parry Center for Children then with Northwest Behavioral Health before, in 2010, joining Moda as an assistant in Underwriting. Three years later, he transferred to Marketing.

It was one day late in 2015 when Mike finally called his mother. He told her about his growing sense of weakness, about his eyesight starting to slip and feeling tired of drinking so much water every day.

She diagnosed him over the phone. (It’s what moms do.)

Within days, doctors confirmed that Mike has Type 1 Diabetes. He had a blood sugar level of 670. The normal range is 80-120.

“It happens immediately,” he says. “You get this feeling of having a leash around your neck, or a ball and chain tied to your ankle. I thought this thing was going to keep me from doing so many things that I want to do.”

Then Mike got smart. His doctor suggested a Type 1 support group. And that, he says, is where he came to realize that there are two types of people dealing with diabetes. “There are the people who live inside their condition. They feel dictated by it. Diabetes tells them what they can and cannot do. I resolved to be in the other group of people. I decided that diabetes has to live with me – not the other way around.”

That’s why today, two years later, Mike continues to eat what he wants – in moderation. To monitor his medications – carefully. To travel, to backpack ... and, yes, still lace up those sneakers. Mike is the steadfast leader of the Tuesday/Thursday Moda running and walking group at the Moda Tower.

Mike McGuffey’s photo

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. In Oregon, almost 400,000 people have the disease. And that, says Mike, is why campaigns like Diabetes Awareness Month are so important – to help spread accurate, up-to-date information on the condition to so many who need it.

And it’s why, Mike says, all of us at Moda are so indebted to the work of our own Robin Richardson, the Moda senior vice president who recently capped 17 years of volunteer service with the American Diabetes Association by chairing the national board of directors.

“Having such a great advocate as Robin here in our own company,” Mike says, “is an enormous help to us all.”

All of which goes to explain why we call ourselves ModaVators. Because that’s really what we’re about. People helping people. People helping people to live the lives they want, and deserve.

All of which goes to explain what Mike means when he says he’s just a guy that diabetes happens to live with.

And why Mike McGuffey still likes to run. He likes to run a lot.

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Hello.

We have exciting news to share. ODS is changing its name to Moda Health.

Moda comes from the latin term "modus" and means "a way". We picked it because that's what we are here to do: help our communities find a way to better health.

Together, we can be more, be better.

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