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Diabetic and raring to go

Teenager Eshaan Shevate is the youngest member of an international team of trekkers. They all have Type 1 diabetes, and will attempt the Sanofi and World Diabetes Tour’s ‘Type 1 Diabetes Challenge’ to Machu Picchu

The trek along Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, is a demanding one.

Eshaan Shevate
Eshaan Shevate hopes to bust many a myth by scaling the Machu Picchu

Even a climber with perfect health would face challenges of altitude sickness and climatic conditions while trekking in the high jungles of the Andes, which would lead most to deem the trek off-limits for Type 1 diabetics. This is the very myth Eshaan Shevate and his team members from the Sanofi and World Diabetes Tour’s ‘Type 1 Diabetes Challenge’ to Machu Picchu hope to bust.

“Machu Picchu is one of the most rigorous treks in the world and we want to prove that we are just as capable of achieving this feat. In fact, we believe that diabetics tend to take better care of their health and are more disciplined,” says 19-year-old Shevate, who studies engineering in Pune. It was Dr Abhay Mutha, Consultant Diabetologist and President of Diabetes Care and Research Foundation, who encouraged Shevate to live a life as normal as possible. The swimming champ, who has represented Pune at state level competitions, also plays hockey and won a gold medal in skating at the district level. “I am an avid trekker and was all set to head to the Himalayas in August before the trek to Machu Picchu was finalised,” adds the Pune boy.

Using an insulin pump since 2010, Shevate has found the perfect balance of dietary restrictions, fitness and medication to live life to the fullest. The teenager has been cycling and swimming to improve his stamina. “We will cover 20 km a day for five days. We’ll need incredible stamina and perfect breathing techniques,” says Shevate, whose five-day trek will begin from the city of Cuzco on July 20.

Already in touch through social networking sites with his team members, who hail from across five different continents, Shevate is keen on learning from the more experienced lot. “They are sportspersons and have represented their countries. I am excited about learning from them,” says the teen, who was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 during a routine medical test before a swimming competition.

“No one in my family or school or immediate neighbourhood knew about the disease. Everyone thought diabetes was merely a lifestyle disease that people over 40 were diagnosed with. I had no family history of diabetes and it was hard for us to understand how to deal with it,” recalls Shevate, who hopes to use his own story to raise awareness about the disease, a serious problem in our country. “With more people being diagnosed at a younger age, they are faced with the prospect of dealing with the condition and its complications earlier and for more of their lifetime,” notes Dr Mutha.

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