Cake Balls - by Catherine Jane Vancak


At DTreat in Tampa, Florida over the July 4th holiday weekend, I got to meet some incredibly special people with Type 1 diabetes. It wasn’t their diabetes that made them special, or that they had superpowers, or even that they had three hands and could magically put in an arm site for their Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) sensor without having to ask someone else for help. (Okay, maybe that last one is just my wishful thinking.)

What made these young adults special were the fantastic things that they were doing with their lives while living with diabetes. The majority of the folks there were college students, who were preparing for awesome careers in their not-so-distant future. There were young adults there who were transitioning from college, who were getting prepared to or already dealing with diabetes in a full-time job role. I looked around, and I saw lawyers, nurses, teachers, psychologists, dancers, librarians, social workers, and even baristas. (Believe me, if you don’t think a barista is an important job, apparently you’ve never been around me in the morning before I’ve had my coffee.)

Two weeks after DTreat, I got a notification on Facebook that I had been tagged in a photo by my friend Catherine Vancak. Because I’m a complete photo whor…um, opportunist…and I like to be in as many of them as I possibly can (just ask Scott Johnson), I traveled over to Catherine’s page to see what Kodak moment I had been captured in this time. That’s when I found the shot of her balls. (Yeah, you try working that line into a blog post and get away with it…that just happened!)

Cake Balls - by Catherine Jane Vancak

Cake balls! Made by my friend and bolusing ballerina ball baker Catherine Vancak.

While in Tampa, I was asked to speak to the group about how to connect with others who live with diabetes, the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), and ways to take the DTreat experience home. One of the things I talked about pulled from my own personal experience of not having anyone with diabetes to connect with for 28 of my 30 years with Type 1. I stressed to my new, pancreatically challenged friends the importance of not letting the opportunity that they had to connect pass them by. I encouraged them to exchange phone numbers, email addresses, become friends on Facebook, follow each other on Twitter, sign up for TuDiabetes, or Juvenation, or get involved with Students with Diabetes. Whatever way they could to keep in touch.

I wish so much that I had had the opportunity to know more people with diabetes earlier in my lifetime, and that makes me eternally grateful for those that I have become so close with in my life now.

Catherine had made these cake balls, and had tagged each ball with the name of a friend that she had met at DTreat that she had gotten to know and who had made an impact on her life with diabetes. They were her way to connect. To me, it was a clear indication of how important it is to have other people with diabetes in our world, and the positive impact we have on each other.

As Catherine said, “I need to make more balls so I can add more diabetic friends!”

Don’t we all.


P.S. – Remember I mentioned that there were dancers at DTreat? Catherine is a trained ballerina, with Type 1 diabetes. Proof that with diabetes, motivation comes from what we can do, not from what we can’t do. Dream big. There is nothing you can’t do with diabetes.

Catherine Vancak - Ballerina

Catherine Vancak


  1. This is amazingly awesome! (see what I did there?!) Love the kitchen-centric way of reaching out and connecting, and just overall just love the discussion you mention about duplicating the DTreat concept locally and offline. Very great thing, bringing our community together even more, and I can’t wait to make more of those connections. The key, though, is to not embarass yourself (well, too much) on first intro, by jumping over church pews or running full speed down a grocery aisle waving your pump in the air… Yes, there are lines apparently. But YAY for more D-Connections and AMAZEBalls! Great post, Martin!

  2. Yay! I just read it and it touched my heart. Thanks for including me in your amazing post! I really do feel like a rockstar. πŸ™‚
    I’m so glad I have my online safety net of wonderful people. You have been great Martin, and I hope to see you again soon!

  3. I’m so glad you were able to attend this Martin – it’s a great thing and more people need to know about it. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

    And you, a photo opportunist? Never would have guessed… πŸ™‚

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